Meat-Free BLT Spaghetti with Butter Lettuce, Leek and Tomato

Serve this vegetarian pasta with Stuffed Young Zucchini.


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 heads butter lettuce
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves or 1/4 cup tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A generous handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 2 large or 4 small leeks, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half moons on an angle, washed and dried
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Salt the water, add the spaghetti and cook 1 minute shy of al dente. Remove a ladle of the pasta water and reserve. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, chop and reserve 1 head lettuce. Chop the second head and add to a food processor with the parsley, basil or tarragon, mint, pine nuts, lemon zest, salt and pepper, to taste, and the cheese. Pulse to chop the greens, then with the processor on, stream in 1/4-1/3 cup of EVOO to form a pesto. Transfer the pesto to large pasta serving bowl and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until wilted, 3 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes, stir, raise the heat a bit and put a lid on the pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes to burst the tomatoes – force the last few along with a potato masher or a wooden spoon if you get impatient. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then stir in the wine and cook for 1 minute.

Add the ladle of the reserved pasta water to the pesto. Add the pasta to the bowl along with the tomatoes and leeks. Toss for 1 minute and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Douse the pasta with the lemon juice and garnish with the reserved chopped lettuce. Serve with extra cheese for topping.

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