Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle Pasta
This creamy leek and pancetta pappardelle pasta (for two) is incredibly easy to prepare. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or special occasion!
I kind of feel like curling up in this bowl of creamy pappardelle and taking a nap. A wonderfully long nap filled with heavy cream, crispy pancetta, caramelized leeks, and a fluffy pile of parmigiano-reggiano for a pillow. Parmigiano-reggiano pillows! That should be a thing.
Here’s the part where I’m supposed to tell you that this recipe would be perfect for your upcoming *cough* Valentine’s Day *cough* dinner. It really would be. It’s pretty dreamy. For that reason, I scaled the recipe down for two!
Don’t worry though! This recipe makes two (very) generous servings. Stingy pasta servings are not allowed around these parts.
But umm….let’s be real for a second. You may not want to share this pasta with anyone else. Your significant other might not even be worthy of this pasta, and I would totally understand. Really, it’s that good.
In fact, I challenge you to find someone who doesn’t enjoy egg pappardelle pasta, particularly when tossed and coated with a cream-based sauce, such as this one. Pappardelle, cream, and pancetta. It doesn’t get better.
I don’t like to play favorites (especially when it comes to pasta!), but it might just be the most universally loved pasta of all time. Rich, perfectly twirlable, and delicious. My go-to brand is DeCecco, which sells a wonderful extra wide egg pappardelle that holds its shape extremely well!
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also use homemade pappardelle pasta for this recipe. Bonus points for you!
This pappardelle pasta is totally elegant and impressive, yet could not be easier to throw together! I love when that happens. As is the case with most cream sauces, this dish takes very little time (30 minutes or less) to prepare.
The first step is to saute the pancetta and sliced leeks in olive oil and butter. I can’t get enough leeks during this time of year! Be prepared for more leek appearances on the blog. They blow regular onions out of the water, and while they can be a little pricey depending on your store (Trader Joe’s sells them for a good price!), they are totally worth the extra indulgence.
You can save the stalks and scraps for homemade stock too!
The next step is to add the heavy cream, thyme, and a touch of water to help thin everything out. Special occasions call for heavy cream. Just do it. No guilt allowed.
While you’re doing all of this, cook the pappardelle just until it is al dente, add it directly to the cream sauce, and finish it off with a heavy hand of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (or grano padano) cheese.
Pat yourself on the back, grab a fork, enjoy the compliments, and dive in!
Seriously though, don’t you just want to DIVE in?!
Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle Pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces pancetta finely diced
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (roughly 5 oz)
- kosher salt
- ½ cup (120 mL) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces dried egg pappardelle pasta
- 1½ ounces finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large (preferably, straight-sided) sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat if necessary.
- Add the unsalted butter to the pan and add the sliced leeks. Sauté the leeks for 6 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat until they are lightly caramelized and soft. Add the heavy cream, chopped thyme, and ¼ cup of water to the pan, and stir ingredients together. Bring to a simmer and reduce the cream mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook the pappardelle in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring every few minutes, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Using tongs, transfer the pasta directly from the pot to the pan with the cream sauce. Don’t worry if you transfer some pasta water along with it, as this will help thin the sauce and help it coat the pasta.
- Turn off the heat. Stir the pasta gently in the sauce until it is evenly coated, add the grated cheese, and add pasta liquid as necessary. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh thyme leaves and grated cheese.