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in the kitchen with: kristina’s lemon, herb and leek pasta

by Kristina Gill

September has been a transition month for as long as I can remember. The new school year always started around then, and I began my first job in September. The weather begins to change (I hope it changes this year!), and new schedules for just about everything begin or resume after the summer lull. I have so many things to catch up on, to transfer and change that I just like to prepare easy food. This week’s recipe for Lemon, Herb & Leek Pasta is something I’ve adapted from a very simple Michele Cranston recipe. You can make it hot or cold and with any herbs you like. It’s perfect when you have so much to do that you don’t want to spend too much time cooking or cleaning dishes. Please carefully inspect your smile afterward to make sure you don’t have anything green stuck between your teeth. — Kristina

About Kristina: Kristina Gill is the founding editor of In the Kitchen With at Design*Sponge and also edits the Behind the Bar column. When she isn’t working on food photography in a studio setting, she is out in the street looking for inspiration in the light, textures, colors, flavors, faces and sounds around her. Kristina is represented by 2DM for her photography.

The full recipe continues after the jump . . .

Lemon, Herb and Leek Pasta
Serves 2


  • 200g your favorite pasta shape (something with nooks and crannies or ridges is best)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus a bit more for frying the leeks
  • 3 tablespoons of your favorite herbs (I’ve used parsley and basil), roughly chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of leeks, fried until crispy



1. Put the water for the pasta on to boil. When the water boils, add salt then the pasta.

2. Clean and slice the leeks. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the leeks.

3. In the meantime, juice the lemon, clean, dry and chop the herbs, garlic and capers. Grate the parmesan. Once the leeks are browned and crispy, remove the frying pan from the heat.

4. Put the lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, garlic, capers and parmesan cheese in a bowl and beat with a fork. Drain the pasta and pour into a large bowl. Pour the lemon, herb and garlic mixture over and toss to coat the pasta well. Divide between two bowls and sprinkle with the leeks.

Why Kristina Loves This Recipe

This recipe was eye-opening when I made it from Michele Cranston’s book. It seems so simple, yet it is so perfect, and I don’t even like lemony dishes! I always have herbs, garlic, and lemons on hand, so it’s something that I can prepare any time and is perfect for entertaining. Sometimes instead of capers I add an anchovy fillet broken down, or I top with some sautéed zucchini. You can add more or less lemon depending on your palate, or try a citrus mix.

Suggested For You


  • Mmmmmm, this looks so yummy, I’m going to have to give it a go! If I like it, might even take it to college for lunch!

  • You guys post the best recipes, and they’re never fussy. I find myself always bookmarking things on my iPad so I can take it into the kitchen – and this is no exception. Sounds delicious!

  • Hi Leslie! That’s so fantastic to hear. We try very hard to choose recipes which people really will prepare. It’s great when people take the time to share their experiences with us.


  • Thanks for posting this recipe! I’m eating it right now and it is so delicious! Good timing too, since I had some leeks and wanted to try something new I fixed it with rotini pasta. I didn’t have capers so I did without. I’m going to make it again soon.

  • Hi Julienne, I used the shape “mezzi paccheri” produced by Verrigni. Paccheri are about twice as long. It’s actually one of my favorite pasta shapes. If you can’t find them, you could try ziti, which are smooth but much smaller in diameter, or rigatoni, which are ridged (rigati). -Kristina

  • You can try tossing the capers in with the frying lemons. I first had fried capers at a pub in Camden as part of a meat and cheese board, and the taste blew my mind. I’ve since incorporated them into lemony pasta if I’m ever frying anything else as part of the process. They’re amazing!

  • Hi Julienne, I would use Al Dente® Pasta Pappardelle pasta which is in my pantry right now. Actually all these ingredients are in my pantry right now. It’s great fresh tasting pasta that cooks in just 3 minutes. I will definitely try this tonight.

  • Just made this tonight and it was AMAZING. It’s raining here in Austin, TX and I was looking for something to make that was cozy and comforting. This dish was perfect. I made it with pappardelle and instead of draining the pasta, I used tongs to transfer the pasta directly from the hot water into the pan with leeks. The little bit of starchy pasta water really held all the ingredients together. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • I made this the other day and added some blanched green peas i got from the farmers market and also added some grilled fish for a little bit of protein. was DELICIOUS.