While on vacation in London a few years ago I fell in love with Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi is a popular takeaway restaurant mini-chain in London that has a wide range of foods with many flavours inspired by the Middle East. While in London I had a great lunch there one day and then subsequently went back almost every day for breakfast. While the breakfast pastries were amazing what really caught my eye were the platters filled with amazing looking salads, grains and even meat dishes. Definitely the kind of stuff I would love to prepare at home.
Fast forward a few months to one of my standard bookstore walkabouts, when I came across a cookbook called Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi… of Ottolenghi! The book was beautiful and all about vegetables and I immediately added it to my cookbook wishlist. THEN a few months later I discovered that he released another cookbook called Jerusalem which as the name implies, is all about recipes from Israel. I’ve since acquired both cookbooks and have fallen in love! Not only are the cookbooks themselves gorgeous to look at, but the flavour combinations are really interesting AND happen to work very well.
Take this recipe for pasta out of the Jerusalem cookbook. Why would I ever think to mix pasta with yogurt, peas, and chile? Sure, I’m always down for some Alfredo but Greek yogurt is not Alfredo sauce. I remember seeing a blog post about this recipe on Orangette and decided to give it a try since the blogger, Molly was pretty much obsessed with the recipe. Plus the ingredients are pretty standard and easy to acquire… so I went for it.
This recipe is super easy to make and requires minimal chopping which is always a bonus. You quickly make the sauce in the food processor (no cooking necessary). And while the pasta cooks you toast up some pine nuts and you’re basically good to go.
The end result is pretty great. The sauce is super creamy and has a tang from the Greek yogurt and additional flavour from the garlic. Pasta and peas go together really well…. plus the sweetness of the peas helps combat a bit of the tang. The pine nuts add a bit of contrast in terms of texture and chiles add some mild heat.
Talk about perfection!
I’m currently cooking my way through Plenty and Jerusalem so expect to see more recipes from both cookbooks. Ottolenghi has also published an American edition of one of his earlier cookbooks called Ottolenghi, so I’m obviously coveting that as well.
Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile
2 ½ cups (500 g) whole-milk Greek yogurt
2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
1 pound (500 g) fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 pound (500 g) pasta shapes of your liking
Scant ½ cup (60 g) pine nuts
2 teaspoons Turkish or Syrian chile flakes, or red pepper flakes
1 2/3 cups (40 g) basil leaves, coarsely torn
8 ounces (240 g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, 6 tablespoons (90 ml) of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup (100 g) of the peas. Process to a uniform pale green sauce, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it until tastes like pleasantly salty seawater. Add the pasta, and cook until it is al dente. While the pasta cooks, warm the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and chile flakes, and cook for 4 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden and the oil is deep red. Also, warm the remaining peas in some boiling water (you could scoop out a bit of the pasta water for this); then drain.
Drain the cooked pasta into a colander, and shake it well to get rid of excess water that may have settled into the pasta’s crevices. Add the pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce; adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to separate. Add the warm peas, the basil, feta, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss gently. Serve immediately, with pine nuts and chile oil spooned over each serving.
Yield: about 6 servings
Recipe from Jerusalem
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