Fusilli with Caramelized Leeks/Shiitake Cream Sauce‏

Fusilli with Caramelized Leeks/Shiitake Cream Sauce‏

Ren and I are gleeks. Ever since she discovered the magic that comes from browning leeks, she’s been actively trying to incorporate them into many of her other dishes as well. Not that I mind. I’m a big fan of any member of the onion family, so I welcome this recent foray with curiosity and much anticipation.

I love food’s many texture profiles and this dish has it in spades. The creaminess of the sauce with the crunch from the panko bread crumbs is fantastic. Top that with the tender, crisp bite from the caramelized leeks and the slightly spongy, chewy texture of the shiitake and you’ve got a dish with real character. The corkscrew pasta literally picks up all these flavors and textures so you get a perfect bite each time.

Fusilli with Caramelized Leeks/Shiitake Cream Sauce‏

Beautiful basil on top of the panko bread crumbs
Fusilli with Caramelized Leeks/Shiitake Cream Sauce‏

Fusilli with Caramelized Leeks/Shiitake Cream Sauce‏

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 2 tsps minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced (about 1 pound)
  • 150 grams shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup all purpose cream
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 225 grams/8 ounces uncooked fusilli (cork screw pasta)
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Combine panko, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, and salt in a small bowl. Spread panko mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 6 minutes or until golden brown, stirring after 3 minutes. Cool.
  3. Prepare pasta as directed. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute leeks in butter and remaining 1 tbsp olive oil until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, for about 10-20 minutes. Add shiitake mushrooms midway into cooking leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Add broth/water, cream and cook until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Add pasta, and then pasta water, to sauce. Add pine nuts and toss gently until sauce clings to pasta. Place about 1 cup pasta in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons panko mixture. Serve with really good, toasted crusty bread with a sun-dried tomato, olive and feta relish (recipe below).

Sun-dried Tomato, Olive and Feta Relish


  • 1/4 cup chopped, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black olives (marinated would be great!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar


  1. Gently mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined.


That leeks, in ancient Egyptian times, were used in a barter-like fashion to pay for goods and services? As one writer from that period recorded, he paid his court magician a fee of 1,000 pears, 100 pitchers of beer, an ox and 100 bunches of leeks.

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He’s the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don’t listen to him.

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