Cooking or serving pasta in hot yogurt sauce may sound slightly out of the ordinary, but the Palestinian classic shishbarak—ravioli-like dumplings stuffed with meat—is prepared in just such a manner. Turkish and Armenian manti are similar examples. The yogurt gives a delightful creaminess, without the heaviness of cream, and we urge you to try it as an alternative to the familiar Italian sauces.
Turkey and Syria produce many types of dried chile flakes, known throughout the region, varying greatly in sweetness, acidity, smokiness, heat, and earthiness. Each has its own unique aroma and identifiable tinge, and we like playing around with them in flavoring many of our dishes. We particularly like Urfa chile, dark purple and almost musky in flavor; Aleppo chile, burgundy color and fruity; or the more general Kirmizi biber, literally translating from Turkish as “red pepper,” which is easier to find and covers a range of Turkish products. Look for all of them in Middle Eastern and Turkish shops, or online. If you can’t get them, use regular chile flakes with a tiny amount of smoked paprika.
- Put the yogurt, 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup of the peas 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 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 into 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, basil, feta, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon white pepper. Toss gently, transfer to individual bowls, and spoon over the pine nuts and their oil.
Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi copyright ©2012. Food photographs copyright © 2012 by Jonathan Lovekin. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.