Recipe

Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

Adapted slightly from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

The original version of this recipe calls for conchiglie, or shell-shaped pasta, but you could use any small pasta shape you like: orecchiette, penne, farfalle, and so on.

If you have some exotic type of dried chile, like Urfa chile, Aleppo chile, or Kirmizi biber, you lucky lucky dog, this is a great place to use it. If not, you can use regular red pepper flakes. I happened to have some Aleppo chile, and though it was ground, not in flakes, and probably a few years old, it worked beautifully. Oh, and if you’re worried about the amount of heat, consider starting with a little less of the chile than what is called for – or just don’t put much chile oil on your pasta.

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
Kosher salt
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: 6 servings