This craveable, sauteed leek pasta comes together in no time – just 30 minutes – with 5 ingredients! Tossed with creamy sesame tahini, a bit of nutritional yeast and lemon zest, this low effort, naturally dairy free pasta recipe is a winner.

leeks and pasta in blue bowls with black spoon
This simple pasta delivers serious flavour…sauteed leeks in a creamy tahini and lemon base.

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If I had to commit to a creamy pasta or a tomato-y pasta for the rest of my life? I’d go creamy, without a second’s hesitation. I mean, I could happily eat my 5 minute cashew alfredo sauce weekly with ZERO complaints.

But a little variation is nice, right? And there is just something so lovely about the sweet, delicate flavour of sauteed leeks that lend themselves very well to a creamy, comforting bowl of pasta that you just want to hunker down with on the couch, sweatpants on, and bliss out.

I don’t use leeks nearly as often as I use onion and garlic in my plant-based recipes because, in my opinion, leeks – in all of their fresh, green glory – shouldn’t be buried in a complex, overly spiced recipe. They deserve to be the star of the show. 

And this gorgeous leek pasta is IT: sautéed on the stovetop with olive oil, until they are kinda caramelized, the leeks mellow out and develop this rich, sweet flavour that you’ll go bonkers for.

Then you take those sweet, tender morsels and toss ‘em with hot pasta; creamy, earthy sesame tahini, a bit of nutritional yeast and lemon zest. It’s the kind of simple meal that is way more than the sum of its parts. 

Have a jar of tahini sitting, unloved, in the back of your fridge? Stick with me friends and that will never happen again…because this creamy, mineral-rich sesame butter is one of my favourite hacks for creating creamy sauces, dressing and dips while boosting nutrition. 

Speaking of boosting nutrition (dietitian here ha), you could add in some chickpeas or white beans for extra protein, or serve this with a lovely kale salad but honestly, this sautéed leek pasta is a simple comfort all on its own. 

First, let’s talk about cleaning leeks

There are two ways to clean leeks well: the easy way… and my “I’m too stubborn to dirty another dish way”…dealer’s choice! Live your life!

  • The easy way: trim and slice your leeks as directed in the recipe. Place the sliced leeks in a bowl and fill with water, agitating the heck out of the leek rings to dislodge the dirt. Rinse, drain and use!
  • Desiree’s stubborn (but actually pretty simple way): trim leeks and slice them in half lengthwise. Rinse leeks under running water, separating each layer so the water can rinse it clear. Then slice as needed and use.

Once those leeks are clean, here’s how to make the sautéed leek pasta

Step One: grab your ingredients. You’ll need a pound of dry pasta, 2-3 large leeks (1.5lb if they are dark greens heavy, or 1lb if they have lots of white/light green parts), olive oil, tahini, nutritional yeast, lemon, salt and pepper.

Step Two: Heat up the pasta water in a large pot while you saute the leeks. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the leeks. Stir them often, and cook until they’re golden and translucent, about 15-20 minutes. You DON’T want the leeks to brown, if they’re browning quickly, turn down the heat to a point where they’re gently sizzling but not browning. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

Step Three: When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain and quickly rinse the pasta and return to the pot. Add tahini, nutritional yeast, lemon zest and toss, adding as much pasta water as you need to achieve a glossy but not runny sauce. Season with salt and pepper and divide among 4 pasta bowls. Divide leeks between bowls and serve with more nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan) and chile flakes if you like.

More scrumptious vegan pasta recipes

leeks and pasta in blue bowls with black spoon

30 Minute Sauteed Leek Pasta with Tahini

This craveable, sauteed leek pasta comes together in no time – just 30 minutes – with 5 ingredients! Tossed with creamy sesame tahini, a bit of nutritional yeast and lemon zest, this low effort, naturally dairy free pasta recipe is a winner.
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound leeks, about 2-3 large leeks, well washed
  • 1 pound your favourite dry pasta , gluten free if needed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • half lemon, zest only
  • salt, to taste…be generous!
  • freshly cracked pepper

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Slice leeks into ¼ inch (½ cm) slices.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add leeks. Cook, stirring often, until golden, soft and translucent, about 15-20 minutes. If leeks are browning quickly, turn heat down a notch but keep it lightly sizzling.
  • Turn off heat, season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • When pasta is done, rinse and drain and return to pasta pot. Add tahini, lemon zest and nutritional yeast and toss, adding enough pasta water to create a glossy, creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide pasta into 4 bowls, top with leeks. Serve with more nutritional yeast (or vegan parm and chile flakes.

Notes

Leftovers reheat nicely with a big splash of water in a skillet.