This Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Leeks is filled with delicious flavors and comes together simply. It makes the perfect weeknight meal that feels satisfying and special!
I’ve been really into simple pastas filled with goodness lately, taking full advantage of all the produce left in the fridge and beans in the pantry. That’s what I love about pastas like this. I was able to rescue some kale and leeks that were on their way to being too old, and turned them into a yummy, cozy pasta dish.
This recipe also uses some of my other favorite ingredients that I like to keep on hand – tomatoes, cannellini beans, and capers. The tomatoes roast in the oven and get the most delicious sweetness, the cannellini beans are creamy and satisfying, and the capers add a great tang to finish off the dish.
Another reason why I love this pasta is the variety of colors. This pasta is yet another one of my recipes that accidentally ends up with holiday colors, ha! Yet here, the red and green are perfect for any season and make for a light yet hearty meal that will hopefully become one of your favorites.
How This Dish Comes Together
This Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Leeks is a really simple vegan lunch or dinner that is ready in 30 to 35 minutes. While the pasta is cooking and the tomatoes are roasting, the other ingredients and steps are done in the pan on the stove.
Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and putting a pot of water on the stove to boil. (When the water boils, I like to add around 2 to 3 teaspoons of kosher salt to the water along with the pasta, but this is optional). You’ll cook the pasta until just al dente and drain it, but reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Right after you preheat the oven and put the water on to boil, slice the cherry or grape tomatoes in half and add them to a baking dish. I used a glass 8×8 baking dish, and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper, then give them a toss and place them into the oven.
Next you’ll prepare the leeks. You won’t need a full leek, just a few inches of the middle, light green part. Leeks are a great way to add subtle oniony flavor without being overpowering, and they cook so quickly as well. Your kitchen will smell amazing as they cook with some garlic, olive oil, and vegan butter. I love leeks in my Creamy Vegan Potato Soup with Leeks.
For cutting the leek, trim the white part and the dark green ends off. Then slice the leek lengthwise, then crosswise cuts around 3/4 cm thick. Then place the leeks into a colander and thoroughly rinse them, since they can get a bit of dirt into them. This rinsing will take care of that, though. Simply Recipes has a great tutorial for how to clean leeks here.
Then add them to a large pan on the stove over medium heat, along with a tablespoon of olive oil and vegan butter. Let them cook while you mince the garlic, and add that to the pan. Let that cook while you cut the stems out of the kale leaves, and thinly slice them. You want small pieces of kale, but not a fine chop. The kale softens as it cooks, and is entirely different than I remember served to me as a kid – tough, curly and pretty icky.
The roasted tomatoes should be ready around this time or nearly. You’re looking for the skins to be somewhat wilting and the juices to be releasing. Add the kale to the pan, along with the roasted tomatoes and their juices.
Add the pasta water as well, and the other seasonings, beans, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. The pasta goes in, along with some of the vegan parmesan. Cook everything together for a minute or two. Then serve the pasta and top with more vegan parmesan if you like, and the capers.
Substitutions and Tips for Making Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Leeks
If you don’t have kale, or just have an aversion to it, a great substitute is baby spinach. I often use baby spinach in dishes like this, such as my Roasted Tomato Spaghetti with Spinach and Chickpeas and Penne with Peppers, Tomatoes and Spinach. And here’s another great pasta recipe that uses kale and also delicious marinated artichokes: Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Kale.
The sun-dried tomatoes and capers are “nice to haves” for this dish. But, if you don’t have them, no worries! The dish will still be yummy. You can try adding marinated artichokes or roasted peppers as well.
Plus, if you don’t have fresh garlic, or are feeling too lazy to deal with it (oh, I’ve been there too!), that’s okay! You can substitute 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead. You can add this into the pan towards the end of the recipe, with all the seasonings, tomatoes, etc.
This Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Leeks recipe uses vegan parmesan. However, a great substitute would be nutritional yeast. It doesn’t taste as “cheesy”, but it still adds a nice depth of flavor. I would suggest starting with 1 tablespoon though. Taste it and add more if you like!
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Leeks
- 1/2 lb. pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 tsp kosher salt divided
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 cups leeks
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 tbsp garlic cloves minced
- 6 to 7 sun-dried tomatoes marinated type, drain them first
- 3 to 4 large kale leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup cannellini beans rinsed if using canned variety
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 3 to 4 tbsp vegan parmesan* shredded
- 2 tbsp capers
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta according to package directions in salted water, then drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes and add them to an 8×8 baking dish, along with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/4 tsp of the kosher salt and the pepper, and toss to coat the tomatoes. Place the dish into the oven and bake for around 20 to 25 minutes, until the skins have started wilting and the tomatoes have released juices.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, slice the leeks (the light green part) lengthwise, then crosswise about 3/4 cm thick to get 2 cups of sliced leeks. Rinse the leeks well. Add them to a large pan on medium heat, along the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and vegan butter. Toss and let them cook while you mince the garlic, then add the garlic to the pan.
- Cut the stems off the kale leaves and thinly slice the kale, then add it to the pan. If the roasted tomatoes aren't done yet. turn off the heat until they're ready.
- Finely chop or thinly slice the sun-dried tomatoes. Then add the roasted tomatoes and all the juices from the dish, the 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, the remaining 3/4 tsp kosher salt, cannellini beans, the dried oregano and dried parsley, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Then add the pasta, stir well, and shred a couple tablespoons of vegan parmesan. Serve and top with more vegan parmesan and the capers.