Wednesday, January 23, 2013

shells with yogurt, peas, and chile.

Has the bitter cold weather made you feel like hiding under piles of blankets and refusing to emerge until the temperature once again surpasses freezing?  Maybe I’m the only one.  I don’t particularly hate the cold but something about temperatures in the single digits and requiring a hat, gloves, scarf, and an extra thick sweater in order to step outside even for a short walk is just unbearable to me.  If I had my way you would find me bundled up under my brand new fuchsia throw with a TV remote in one hand, a cup of super thick hot chocolate (with homemade marshmallows) in my other hand, and several dogs napping at my feet.  (This whole job thing is really impairing my ideal life.)  My comfort food cravings have gotten so bad that I’ve found myself dreaming about pasta which is how I ended up finally making the yogurt pasta dish from the Jerusalem cookbook which I have been obsessing over from the moment I got the book.  This is the kind of thing I love to eat in the winter since it’s not terribly heavy but it’s still comforting.  The pine nuts give a spicy crunch bite, which is something I love in pasta dishes, and the chunks of feta give a lovely salty bite and the yogurt sauce is genius!  It also reminds you a little bit of spring and that winter will end at some point, which is something everyone needs to be reminded of on weeks like this. 

Shells with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile
Recipe adapted from Jerusalem

Serves 6 (I halved the recipe and it served the 2 of us with leftovers for lunch) 

I streamlined things here and altered things to reflect my own flavor preference.  I found that there was a lot of basil in the dish that was almost overwhelming so I added a third of the basil to the yogurt sauce in order to make a kind of yogurt pesto.  I also added in some more Aleppo pepper because I haven’t found anything Aleppo pepper isn’t good on and the extra spice is a welcome addition to the dish. 

2 1/2 cups (500 grams) Greek yogurt
2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound (500 grams) fresh or thawed peas
1 pound (500 grams) shell pasta
1/2 cup (60 grams) pine nuts
3 teaspoons Aleppo chilie flakes
1 2/3 cup (40 grams) basil leaves
8 ounces (240 grams) feta cheese, broken into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the yogurt, 6 tablespoons/90 ml of olive oil, the garlic, 2/3 cup (100 grams) of the peas, 2/3 cup basil, and 1 teaspoon of Aleppo chilie in a food processor.  Blitz to a uniform pale green sauce and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente.  As the pasta cooks, heat the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Add the pine nuts and the chile flakes and fry for 4 minutes, until the nuts are golden and the oil is deep red.  Also, heat the remaining peas in some boiling water, then drain.  

Drain the cooked pasta in a colander, shake well to get rid of the water, and add the pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce; adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to split.  Add the warm peas, the remaining basil, feta and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss gently, spoon the pine nuts and their oil over the pasta.  

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