I am a creature of habit through and through; spontaneity is not my strong suit. I like knowing what my day will be like tomorrow before I go to bed, I make lists, plan and make alternate plans just in case. And when I find a recipe I like, it takes over all the other food ideas I had in my head and I start obsessing about making it over and over and over. It wasn't always this way - it seems to be getting worse as I get older. Sigh.
My kitchen routine has been a steady repertoire of Ottolenghi and Heidi Swanson recipes as of late and I refuse to apologize for that. Except maybe to the other cookbooks that sit neglected on my shelf and the countless recipe ideas I've pinned with the best of intentions. I'll be back for you.
In the mean time, let's all contemplate this dish from Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Jerusalem. This pasta is absolutely the stuff dreams are made of. I can't decide what I'm more enamored with - using greek yogurt as a base for the sauce or the deeply toasted pine nuts in chile oil or just the name of the pasta shape. Conchiglie. Kohn-KEE-lyeh. I know you just said that out loud a few times. Isn't it a fun word to say?
The seashells are the perfect shape for grabbing onto and enveloping the sweet peas, small chunks of feta and a spicy pine nut or two. A last minute and slow folding in of the yogurt sauce ensures that it doesn't break or curdle and the torn basil adds a perfect and herbaceous aromatic element. By the time this pasta is on your plate it's just this side of warm, which is perfect for a spring evening or an al fresco dinner. Now I forget what it was that I had decided to make for dinner tonight.
Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile
Adapted slightly from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
I've scaled down this recipe by half and made a few tinkering adjustments here and there and still found that it was plenty for 4 people. You could use another pasta shape like orecchiette or rigatoni, but really, the seashells are more fun.
6 ounces Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium clove of garlic, crushed or pressed
1/2 pound frozen peas
1/2 pound conchiglie
Scant 1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoons Aleppo chile, or red pepper flakes
3/4 cup basil leaves, coarsely torn
4 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and 1/3 cup 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. 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-low heat. Add the pine nuts and chile, and cook for 4 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden and the oil is deep red.
Put the frozen peas into a colander and pour the hot pasta and water over to drain Shake it well to get rid of excess water that may have settled into the pasta’s crevices. Add the pasta and peas gradually to the yogurt sauce; adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to separate. Add the the basil, feta, and a pinch of kosher salt. Toss gently. Serve immediately, with pine nuts and chile oil spooned over each serving.