- 3/4 pounds bucatini* pasta
- 8 ounces of a sharp, creamy cheese that melts well (Italian Fontina/Fontal, or Brie or Camembert)
- 4 small leeks
- 2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup milk (or less)
- 1/2 cup coarsely ground hazelnuts
- f1 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
*(Bucatini are very thick spaghetti with a hole in the middle. Most major Italian brands make them, but if you can’t find them you can substitute linguine)
Clean the leeks, discarding the green and harder parts, and slice them thinly. Heat the oil or butter in a skillet, add the leeks and cook until soft. In the meantime, toast the hazelnuts in the oven for a few minutes, and grind them coarsely.
Place the cheese in a heavy or non-stick skillet with the milk and cream, and allow it to melt, stirring frequently. Remove the skillet from the heat, and combine the cream/cheese mix with the cooked leeks and the ground hazelnuts.
Cook the pasta ‘al dente’ (for instructions, check my article here) and drain it, setting aside a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce and a little cooking water; sprinkle with pepper, decorate with thyme and serve hot.
** If you are watching your diet, you can play with the proportions of milk and cream (or just skip to one of my vegetable-based pasta sauces