A spicy pasta dish hit the table this week, one that certainly packs a chilli hit, but one that also includes yoghurt and feta, and the cooling peas to temper that punch. It is quite a glorious dish, silky and creamy with the texture of toasted pine nuts. I am making it in Winter, but I highly recommend it for Spring. It can be made any time of year, of course, but peas fresh from the vine lift the dish to a different level. Bookmark it now for your spring time.
The recipe is one of Ottolenghi’s from his Guardian column and from his book, Jerusalem. We are cooking our way through Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by.
Conchiglie or Orecchiette with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli
500g Greek yoghurt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
150ml olive oil
500g fresh peas (or frozen, defrosted)
500g conchiglie pasta (for alternatives, see notes below recipe – I used Orecchiette)
60g pine nuts
2 tspn kirmizi biber (or less, depending on how spicy you like it) (see notes below for substitutions)
40g basil leaves, roughly torn
240g feta, broken into chunks
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Put the yoghurt, garlic, 90ml of the olive oil and 100g of the peas in a food processor. Blitz to a uniform, pale-green sauce and pour into a large bowl.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente. While it’s cooking, heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and chilli, and fry for four minutes, until the nuts are golden and the oil deep red. At the same time, heat the remaining peas in a pan of boiling water, then drain.
Drain the cooked pasta into a colander, shake well to get rid of the excess cooking water, then gradually add the hot pasta to the yoghurt sauce (adding it all at once may cause the yoghurt to split). Add the peas, basil, feta, a teaspoon of salt and plenty of white pepper, and toss gently. Transfer to serving bowls, spoon over the pine nuts and the chilli-infused oil, and serve.
recipe notes and alterations
Kirmizi biber (Turkish chilli flakes) are used here to cut the sweetness of the peas and yoghurt. If you can’t get hold of them, instead use regular chilli flakes with a tiny amount of smoked paprika.
If you want to serve this dish as a salad, reserve 60ml of the cooking water when you drain the pasta and whisk this into the yoghurt sauce before the rest of the ingredients are stirred in.
The recipe calls for conchiglie (shell-shaped pasta) but you could use any small pasta shape you like: orecchiette, penne, farfalle, etc. This time I used orecchiette.