This shrimp and leek pasta winner is from Lidia Bastianich, host of PBS’s Lidia’s Italian Table and author of the companion cookbook of the same name. If you’re tired of pasta with heavy sauces, take a look. Lidia uses a light chicken stock to complement sautéed leeks and shrimp.David Leite

Plate with shrimp and leek pasta.


A white plate filled with shrimp and leek pasta on a multi-colored woven placemat.

Shrimp and Leek Pasta

5 / 21 votes
This shrimp and leek pasta ditches the heavy cream sauce in favor of a light broth-based sauce that elevates the shrimp and leeks.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories741 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound tagliatelle
  • 2 large leeks
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 2 (1/2-ounce) tablespoons unsalted butter, (optional)
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for table
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Bring 6 quarts water to a boil and add the 2 tablespoons salt.
  • Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon. If the pasta is fresh, it will be done as soon as the water returns to a boil. Otherwise, boil for 2 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the tagliatelle sit for the remaining time specified on the package.
  • Meanwhile, trim the root ends from the leeks and discard the tough green portions (roughly the top 1/3). Slice the remaining pale green and white portions of the leeks into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and rinse in several changes of cold water to remove any grit. Rinse and drain well.
  • In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss in the shrimp and quickly cook, stirring only occasionally, for 2 minutes. The shrimp will be almost but not quite cooked through. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
  • In the sauté pan, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. You may need to reduce the heat to medium if the leeks are turning brown.
  • Add the shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the butter and stock and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drain the pasta well and return it to the pot or transfer it to a serving dish. Add the shrimp and leek sauce and gently toss to coat the pasta. Sprinkle with the pecorino Romano cheese, toss well, and serve with plenty of additional pecorino passed on the side.
Lidia's Italian Table by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

Adapted From

Lidia’s Italian Table

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 741 kcalCarbohydrates: 90 gProtein: 44 gFat: 23 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 289 mgSodium: 3852 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 5 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 1998 Lidia Bastianich. Photo © 1998 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This shrimp and leek pasta is simple and delicious. A very quick and easy recipe for a weeknight meal.

I don’t have small children around, but my daughter would have loved this dish as a child. The light sauce also makes it a great choice for spring and summer.

One pound of pasta seemed to be too much as we really liked the sauce. I would definitely halve the pasta or double the sauce. At least double the leeks. And, unless you like huge portions of pasta, the recipe as written could be at least 6 servings along with salad, bread, etc.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Very, very good. I have been making something similar for about 30 years from an old Sunset publication from about 1971 but this is even better and much more simple to make. It is not as heavy and the use of leeks rather than onions avoids having to add parsley for the sake of presentation. Will be making this one in the future. 5 stars.

    1. Fantastic, Peter! I agree—the use of leeks is very effective here. They’re milder than onions and don’t get in the way of the shrimp flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    Sublime! I riffed with (non-ricotta) cavatelli, added some diced zucchini & yellow squash (which melted exquisitely into the sauce), added a touch of white wine…so magically marvelous! David, I adore your site, so appreciate you, & love how all your shared recipes invite experimentation. This lovely luscious recipe indicates exactly why you always find pride of place in my kitchen!

    1. Lisa! I love your tweaks. It’s funny, I’ve made the dish the same way for almost 30 years, and it never crossed my mind to play. Your version is on my calendar now.

      1. 5 stars
        David! This 5’0” human shrimp is tickled to pieces! I’ve loved cooking & baking since childhood. Having played joyfully & often with my Nonna’s handed down recipes, I know firsthand how even the most sublime “tried-&-true” can sometimes become something lusciously new. (Though there absolutely are some with which I’d never ever —heaven forbid!— meddle!) I love your cooking style & selections so; thanks for sharing your kitchen bliss!

      2. 5 stars
        You can never go wrong with a “Lidia” recipe. And they are easily customized, which right now I’m cutting my carbs (again ugh), but I just increased the amount of leeks, added some asparagus heads, and shredded the stalks to replace the pasta. Yum.

        1. Well, THAT is clever, Lisa! And I hear you re: carbs. Why can’t there be a diet that prohibits vegetables? I’d be a male Kate Moss.

  3. 5 stars
    This is my favorite pasta dish! I keep promising a friend that I’ll bring him some, but I eat it all before I get any to him. Next time, I’ll double the recipe so I can share!

    1. Jenifer, you warm the cockles of my heart. It is hands down our favorite, too. Yet, so few readers of the site gravitate toward it! ? ? ? ?

      1. David – I’ve told many of my friends about it and also about how much I love your website! Thanks for giving me great recipes, stories and more! – Jenifer

        1. Oh, my gosh! Not only a fan of the dish but a fan of the site. Jenifer, you’re a two-in-one one-of-a-kind!