This intriguing pasta recipe is found on page 111 in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. I was lured by the photo of the Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chile, the creamy feta pasta topped with toasted pine nuts, fresh basil, Greek yogurt and green peas, and I had to try it! This beautiful pasta salad is one that I would happily bring to a potluck of any ceremony. Its easy to eat, its easy on the eyes, and the composition of fresh ingredients makes it easy to digest. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
The recipe also leaves an enormous amount of leftovers, as small amounts are very filling, and after the first serving I was left with enough pasta to last my husband and I a full week. It really would be perfect at a dinner party or potluck in place of the usual pasta salads (although, it is best served hot).
The authors of Jerusalem spun their recipe off a classic Middle Eastern dish called Shish barak, where ravioli-like dumplings are filled with lamb and spices, and served in a warm yogurt sauce with toasted pine nuts, like a soup. This dish stems from Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Jordan, with another similar meal, called Manti, possibly originating in Anatolia, Turkey. Manti actually resembles Chinese baozi, with larger lamb-filled dumplings served alongside a yogurt garlic sauce. This dish is popular throughout Central Asia and several Soviet countries, and may have migrated east through China, Korea and Mongolia along the Silk Road, with an early recipe going as far back as the 12th century. Ottolenghi’s version— updated and appealing towards a Western palette— reflects the melting pot of influences that Jerusalem, the city, provides.
I appreciate the use of Greek yogurt in place of standard cream for this dish— it helps me feel less guilty about the overload on carbs. The pine nuts are essential for bringing that sweet and subtle nutty undernote to the palette that the dish begs for, and the green peas provide something of substance to the dish overall (1 cup of green peas yields 7 grams of fiber). When all stirred together, this is an exquisitely attractive meal— the vibrancy of the green peas and basil are like a siren’s song to the stomach.
My favorite part is the spicy oil drizzled over the finished plate, wakening the taste buds to a dish that, otherwise, can get pasty on the tongue between the sour flavors of the yogurt and feta. I decided to add a spicy sausage to this recipe, cooking it alongside the pine nuts and spiced oil. The result is a mild, lingering heat that leaves you wanting a second bowl (if you’re not too full already)!
Have you made YO’s Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Chile?
Tell me about it in the comments below, and share a photo if you have one. I’d love to know what alterations you’ve made, and what dishes you’ve paired it with!
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