Thursday, August 15, 2013

something else

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Because I am still playing catch up from a fast paced summer, I am just now uploading photographs from things I cooked in June and July. And I mean, crap I did quite a bit of cooking. And not enough sharing! Such a classic youngest child. This pasta here was one of the last proper dinners I cooked in my cozy little apartment kitchen for Paul and myself before we moved out. I was catching up on a few of my favorite blogs in between packing up boxes and Molly on Orangette gave this such a rousing endorsement that I literally scratched out the ingredients on a scrap of paper and went straight to the store to buy pine nuts.

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This dish is a very different kind of pasta made up of a host of tastes that you probably wouldn’t normally associate with classic Italian-style pasta dishes. Basil sure, he’s a familiar one, and even peas and pine nuts but a blended yogurt sauce and a spicy, textured, nutty oil for garnishing make it truly unique and something else altogether. It just seemed like it might be too weird not to try and I’m glad I did. I ate the leftovers over the course of two days standing in front of the fridge with the door open, forkful by forkful. This is always a sign of success.

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Pasta with Yogurt, Peas and Red Pepper Pine Nut Oil
(from Jerusalem, by way of Orangette)

1 pound pasta (whichever shape you like I used shells and they worked great. Orchiette is another excellent choice)
2 ½ cups whole-milk Greek yogurt
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
1 pound fresh or thawed frozen peas
Kosher salt
Scant ½ cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 cup basil leaves, coarsely torn
8 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

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In the bowl of a food processor combine the yogurt, garlic, 2/3 cup peas and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Process into a uniform consistency pale green sauce and transfer to a large bowl.

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Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. Add pasta and cook, according to package directions, until al dente. While the pasta cooks heat the remaining olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and red pepper flakes and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the nuts are golden and all the oil is a deep burnished red. When the timer on your pasta reads 3 minutes, toss the peas into the pot. You can cook and strain everything together to skip dirtying another pot.

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Gradually add the pasta and peas to the yogurt sauce, stirring together thoroughly at each addition so as not to curdle the yogurt with the heat of the cooked pasta. Add the torn basil, feta and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Toss together gently. Serve immediately, spooning the pine nut-red pepper oil over each individual serving. This is such a delicious study in and tangy, salty and sweet with a nice punch of fire and crunch from the oil. Yogurt sauce might be kind of strange sounding for some but I would make this again in a minute.

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