recipes to mark in pen: pasta with yogurt, peas, and chile


Recipes work in different ways. Some recipes rather gently plant themselves in my mind. I make a small mental note, one in pencil and certainly not in pen, and then a pile of produce at the market might trigger it. It can be a couple days later or even years later that I finally get around to giving it a try.

Other recipes, however, are loud and impossible to ignore. These recipes are the ones that you can't forget. Instead of just making a mental note in pen, your hand reaches for pen and paper and you find yourself at the grocery store or market checking off ingredients. 

 Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile unquestionably belongs to the second category. Molly Wizenberg is absolutely right when she describes this as a GO! make this now kind of recipe. If you aren't familiar with this recipe, I don't think that it would be out of line for me to suggest that you will probably make it tonight. It is certainly a recipe that you mark with pen and not pencil.

And I'm grateful for these kinds of recipes because they get you back into the groove of cooking. With so many friends and family in town the past few weeks, my kitchen became a place for baking wedding cakes and making coffee and not too much more. I do love dining out as I find much inspiration in good restaurant menus (and am known to scribble down notes to myself while making my order, and I have one such note/recipe to share soon), but too many nights out at restaurants has me dreaming of boiling water and making pasta and roasting some fruit for dessert. 

Pasta with Yogurt, Peas and Chile is unlike any other pasta dish that I've had. Making a creamy sauce with peas and yogurt is nothing short of brilliant and the chile oil and pine nuts that tops each serving off will have you tempted to lick the frying pan. It is quick (like all good pasta dishes), but still exciting which makes it ideal for weeknight meals as well as for when you have guests over. 

I used fresh peas. I imagine that frozen would be fine too, but considering that it is pea season I'm obliged to encourage you to go fresh (a frozen pea just will never beat a fresh pea). I halved the recipe, served it for two, and we had a very generous amount of leftovers. I generally agree with Nigel Slater when he says that despite what women's magazines might have you believe, pasta salads are bad. However, day old pasta with yogurt, peas, and chile, served at room temperature, is an exception to that rule.  

Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

adapted from Orangette's version of the recipe from 'Jerusalem'
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

serves 3


1 1/4 cups (250 g) whole milk Greek yogurt
 a good 1/3 (75 ml) olive oil
1 medium clove garlic, pressed or crushed
1/2 pound (250 g) fresh or thawed frozen peas
coarse sea salt
1/2 pound (250 g) pasta (I used fusilli)
scant 1/4 cup (30 g) pine nuts
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cup (20 g) basil leaves, roughly torn
4 ounces (120 g) feta cheese, crumbled  

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

While the water is coming to a boil, in a blender whiz together the yogurt, 3 tbsp (45 ml) of the olive oil, the garlic and 1/3 cup (50 g) of the peas. Blend until you have a smooth pale green sauce. Transfer sauce to a large mixing bowl.

Once the water is boiling, salt it very generously and then add the pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat a small frying pan over medium heat and warm the olive oil. Add the chile flakes and pine nuts, and cook until the nuts are golden and the oil has taken on a red colour, about 4 minutes. Put the remaining peas in a small bowl, and add some of the pasta water to warm the peas. Once warmed, drain. 

Drain the pasta, making sure to get ride of any excess water. Gradually add the pasta to the bowl with the yogurt sauce. You don't want to add it all at once as this might cause the yogurt to separate. Add the basil, feta, warm peas and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Toss gently, season to taste and serve immediately with a big spoonful of chile oil and pine nuts to garnish. 


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