If you’ve ever joined a CSA program — that’s Community Supported Agriculture for you non-hippies — you know how awesome it can be to have loads of farm fresh produce delivered to you every week. You also know how freaking challenging it can be to use all of the food before it goes bad. After all, it’s organic and local so it’s not sprayed with cancer in order to make it last longer. So you’d better make those leeks work for you, and fast. When in doubt, I say grab the gluten-free pasta and go to town. But leeks weren’t my only challenge.
Faced with this -
Which is probably why it was the best lesson ever when it was my turn to bring home my daughter’s school’s CSA box (in addition to our own) and create tasty meals for her class the very next day. It was like Iron Chef or Top Chef, or one of those chef shows that I don’t watch but probably should. In a matter of hours I had whipped up six awesome dishes, along with those macaroons, for kids who probably won’t even eat leeks. But guess what? All the bowls were empty when they came home. Which means the kiddos ate vegetables, or the adults allowed me to save some face by dumping out the rest. I’ll take either, really.
Here’s the first round in the CSA challenge (after the macaroons, of course).
Gluten-Free Pasta With Leeks & Thyme
adapted from the New York Times
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 pound gluten-free pasta
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1. Trim root end of leeks, then cut off hard green leaves, leaving a bit of green where they meet the white part. Split leeks down the middle, then chop them, not too finely. Wash very well, and spin or shake dry. Set a large pot of water to boil, and salt it.
2. Put half the oil in a large skillet, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic browns; remove garlic. Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they wilt, about 10 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring once in a while, until leeks begin to brown.
3. Cook pasta until tender but not mushy. When it’s done, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Toss pasta and leeks together with remaining oil, a few turns of black pepper and all but a little of the thyme, adding a bit of cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining thyme, and serve.
Makes: 8 servings