As part of my series on cooking with scraps, I’ll show you how to create a delicious main dish meal using the tops of leeks—the dark green part that normally isn’t used in a recipe—to make Spaghetti with Leek Greens. This recipe will help you on your journey to creating a no-waste kitchen!

Watch the Cooking with Scraps – Leek Greens video

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Cooking with Leek Green Scraps

For an earlier family meal, I made a potato leek soup, but it just calls for the white part and light green part of the leek, so the dark green parts of the leek would normally go into the compost pile or trash. However, instead of wasting them, we’re going to use the leek green scraps to make a wonderful pasta dish.

Saving scraps helps you stretch your grocery budget and create a no-waste kitchen. You’ll be surprised at how many delicious and nutritious meals you can make from foods you would normally discard.

Ingredients to Cook with Leek Greens

Find the full printable recipe with ingredients below.

  • Leek greens – Taken from three bunches of leaks where you’ve already used the white and light green part of the vegetable.
  • Salt – I always prefer sea salt in my dishes.
  • Butter – Melted to saute the leek greens.
  • Olive oil – Also added to help saute your leek green scraps.
  • Black pepper and Red Pepper flakes – Both add a little spice to your dish.
  • Lemon – You’ll use both the zest and the juice in this recipe.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – You can also use another hard cheese like Pecorino Romano.
  • Spaghetti – Your pasta brings the whole dish together with your leek green scraps. I like to cook my pasta al dente.

How to Cook with Leek Greens

Find the full printable recipe with measurements below.

  1. Cook your spaghetti.
  2. Slice your leek greens thinly.
  3. Saute your leek greens with butter and olive oil.
  4. Add salt, black pepper, red pepper, and lemon zest and juice.
  5. Add cooked spaghetti and toss with sautéed leek greens.
  6. Stir in Parmigiano Reggiano and pasta water.
  7. Serve as is or with a bread accompaniment.


You can try this recipe with other vegetable scraps or pasta, but spaghetti works the best to blend in the long leek green strips.

You can save most vegetable scraps for making bone broth. However, note that vegetables with strong flavors, such as garlic or turnips, are not good candidates for making bone broth since they’ll overpower the taste of your bone broth.

Recipe Tips

If you’re not used to cooking pasta al dente, you’re in for a treat. Al dente means that you’ve cooked your spaghetti (or other pasta) to the point where there’s a slight bite and the pasta is not mushy. This usually means that we will be cooking our pasta for less time than indicated in the package directions.

Al dente pasta gives your dishes more substance and enables you to reheat your food (or keep it hot) without worrying about your pasta coming out mushy.

Storing and Reheating

You can keep leftovers for 3-4 days in the refrigerator and reheat in a frying pan.

More Cooking with Scraps

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Spaghetti with Leek Greens Recipe

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Prep: 4 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 people
Make this delicious recipe using the tops of leeks, the green part that normally is discarded and not used in recipes.


  • 1 lb Spaghetti Cook your pasta al dente, and save 1/4 cup of your pasta water after cooking.
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 Leek Greens You will have used the white part of your leeks in a previous recipe.
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Lemon You'll use the zest and lemon juice.
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated You can also use Pecorino Romano or another hard cheese for this optional ingredient.


  • In a stockpot, bring water up to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook for 4-5 minutes until al dente. Save a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
  • Slice leek greens thinly.
  • In a frying pan, add butter and olive oil and saute leek greens in melted butter for 2-3 minutes until greens are softened.
  • Add salt, black pepper, red pepper, and the zest from one lemon and stir.
  • Add the juice from one lemon and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add cooked spaghetti and toss with sauteed leek greens.
  • Add parmigiano-reggiano and saved pasta water and stir.
  • Serve as is or with a bread accompaniment. You can keep leftovers for 3-4 days in the refrigerator and reheat in a frying pan.



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