When 2021 began, I felt like I was in a dinner rut. Even though the recipes I was cooking for dinner were all of our favorites, I felt like I was getting tired of cooking the same things over and over again. I decided to make it my goal to try one new recipe per week – super manageable, right? This recipe for Creamy Bacon and Leek Pasta was one of the first new ones I tried and let’s just say…I’ve made it three times already, and it’s only February! Whoops. 🙂 I know that goes against my goal of trying more new recipes but trust me…this one is delicious. We cannot get enough of how awesome this dish is, and how quickly it comes together with just a few ingredients.
CREAMY BACON AND LEEK PASTA INGREDIENTS
- Short pasta: Any type of short pasta will do – we particularly love rigatoni, radiators, or rotini, but I generally use whatever I happen to have on hand!
- Bacon: Barry does not eat pork, so we always use beef bacon. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend you to try to get your hands on some! It’s absolutely delicious and tastes even better than pork bacon, in my opinion (and I am a huge fan of pork bacon!)
- Leeks: When creating this recipe, it was actually my first time ever cooking with leeks! They’re super easy to work with and give this dish almost a sweet, mild onion flavor. Just be sure to rinse under water off very, very well before cooking.
- Half and half: This is the base of the creamy sauce. Heavy cream would be delicious as a substitute, but I wanted to keep things just a little bit lighter.
- Grated parmesan cheese: When paired with the half and half, this makes the most delicious sauce.
- Reserved pasta water: When making a pasta dish with some sort of sauce, always save some of the cooking water from the pasta before draining it. The starch in it makes it a bit thicker than plain water, which helps sauces come together/thin out as needed (without getting too watery).
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY BACON AND LEEK PASTA
- Cook pasta: Bring salted water to a boil and add pasta; cook until al dente (while pasta is cooking, reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside).
- Cook the bacon: Saute the bacon until crispy; carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- Cook and season the leeks: Add sliced leeks to the bacon drippings in the pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add half and half: Pour in the half and half and gently stir; let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add pasta and cheese: Add the pasta to the pan along with the parmesan cheese, 3/4 of the bacon, and some of the reserved pasta water. Stir gently until combined.
- Top & serve: Serve topped with the remaining bacon, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper.
NOTES AND SUGGESTIONS
- Any bacon will do in this recipe, although we are partial to beef bacon. It’s sold at some grocery stores – I highly suggest you try to find some if you’ve never had it before. It’s delicious!
- Be sure to rinse your leeks really well…like, really well. 🙂 They hold a TON of dirt and sand, so I usually rinse them three times to ensure it’s all removed. I rinse the whole bunch right away before cutting, then I rinse the leeks after I cut them in half lengthwise. Finally, I rinse them a third time (in a colander) after I’ve thinly sliced them.
- You could substitute heavy cream for the half and half if you’d prefer. I rarely have heavy cream on hand, though, and prefer to keep things a bit lighter whenever possible. For a special occasion meal, though, cream would be awesome.
- We love leeks so two bunches is the perfect amount for us (read: lots and lots of leeks in every bite :)) but feel free to use only one or one and a half bunches if you want a little bit less.
Friends, you need to try this tasty and super simple dish for dinner! So, so good. Let us know how you like it. 🙂
CREAMY BACON AND LEEK PASTA
- 1 lb short pasta
- 12 oz package bacon, cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces (We prefer beef bacon, but pork works well too)
- 2 bunches leeks, white and green parts only (Leeks halved lengthwise, rinsed very well and thinly sliced)
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1.5 cups half and half
- 2/3 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Bring salted water to a boil and add pasta; cook until al dente (while pasta is cooking, reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside).
- Add the cut up bacon to a large saute pan and cook until crispy; carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel-lined plate.
- Carefully remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add sliced leeks to the remaining drippings in the pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
- Season the leeks with about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper (adding more or less to taste).
- Pour in the half and half and gently stir; let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the skillet along with the parmesan cheese, 3/4 of the bacon, and some of the reserved pasta water (add as little or as much of the water as needed until the sauce reaches your desired consistency). Stir gently until combined.
- Serve topped with the remaining bacon, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
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This recipe was adapted from Pasta With Bacon and Leeks
If you’re looking for other quick and easy pasta dishes, try our:
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