(Meat free) BLT Spaghetti

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Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from: Rachel Ray
Originally from January 2014 on my old blog

Pasta dinners are the best dinners. They’re so simple and quick (unless you’re making the pasta from scratch, which I did, but I only do that because I love it and realize that basically no one else will want to go through all of that) and I have never met a person who doesn’t love a big plate of pasta at the end of the day. Not to mention, there are a million and one variations and recipes, so it never gets old!

This here is a pretty interesting one. There’s actually no bacon; (even though you could most definitely fry some up and throw it in there!) the BLT stands for Butter Lettuce, Leek, and Tomato. It all adds up to a very vibrant tasting dish. It has some healthful components (lettuce, tomatoes, leeks, basil, olive oil, and almonds) and some decadent elements (pasta, wine, and cheese) that add up to a perfect, satisfying, vegetarian weeknight dinner.

Ingredients:
~1 pound spaghetti (I made the spaghetti from scratch but that is OBVIOUSLY optional. I’d actually recommend using the dried stuff because it’s so much easier and faster).
~2 heads butter lettuce
~½ cup fresh parsley leaves
~½ cup fresh basil
~¼ cup fresh mint leaves
~¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts or silvered almonds
~generous handful of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
~2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
~¼ to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
~3 to 4 leeks, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half-moons on an angle, cleaned, and dried
~3 to 4 garlic cloves, cleaned and chopped
~1 pint grape tomatoes
~½ cup dry white wine
~Juice of ½ a lemon

Chop and reserve 1 head of lettuce, then chop the second head and add to a food processor with the parsley, basil, mint, nuts, cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and the lemon zest. Pule-shop the greens, then turn on the processor and stream in the ¼ cup of olive oil to form a pesto. Add an extra 2 tablespoons or so if necessary to reach the desired consistency (keep in mind it can be pretty thick as you’re going to be adding some starchy pasta cooking water to the pesto later). Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the leeks and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. or until the leeks or wilted. Add the grape tomatoes, stir, raise the heat a bit, and place a lid on the pan. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes to burst the tomatoes (stir every few minutes; I didn’t think I had to do that but I ended up burning them a little). Season with salt and pepper, stir in the wine, and cook off for 1 minute.

Place a large pot of salted water on high heat and when at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook 1 minute shy to al dente. When the pasta is 1 minute shy to al dente, add a ladel of the starchy pasta water to the pesto, then drain the pasta. In a big bowl, combine the pasta, pesto, and tomato mixture. Douse with lemon juice and garnish with the reserved lettuce. Serve with extra cheese for topping.

Happy dining!!

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