When Andrew and I were in Turkey over the summer, we tried a traditional dish called manti, which consists of a ravioli-like dumplings filled with meat and topped with yogurt and spices. I loved it - the yogurt sauce was creamy and tangy and paired well with the dumplings. Yogurt and pasta may seem like an odd combination at first, but it is commonly found in certain Middle Eastern cuisines, and it's not that far off from the yogurt rice eaten in India.
This recipe came from Jerusalem - it's not the same dish I tried in Turkey, but it's in the same family. Here, the sauce includes yogurt, feta cheese, and pureed peas. The pasta is tossed with more peas and basil, and topped with pine nuts that have been cooked in a spicy chile oil. The pine nuts and chile oil really make this dish - the nuts add texture and the chile add another dimension of flavor. The chile oil is very spicy though, so cut down on the chile flakes if you are sensitive to heat!
A note on the Jerusalem cookbook - this book is by Yotam Ottolenghi, the author of Plenty. You may remember me talking about how much I love Plenty, and Jerusalem is just as good (although fyi - it's not vegetarian). I love the big flavors and creative combinations of ingredients in Ottolenghi's recipes and his cookbooks are always a good source of inspiration. I definitely highly recommend this one.
Pasta shells with yogurt sauce, peas, and chile
Adapted from Jerusalem
2 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
6 tbs olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. thawed frozen peas, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 lb. pasta shells
Scant 1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tsp chile flakes (use less if you are sensitive to heat)
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Combine yogurt, 2 tbs olive oil, garlic, 2/3 cup peas, salt, and white pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process to a smooth light green sauce.
Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, then drain, reserving about 1 cup of cooking water.
While pasts cooks, heat remaining 4 tbs olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, chile flakes, and paprika and cook until pine nuts are golden brown.
Toss pasta with sauce, remaining peas, feta cheese, and basil. Divide into serving bowls and spoon the pine nuts and chile oil over the top of each serving. Serve immediately.