September 8, 2014
I found myself in a quandary the other day. I didn’t feel like cooking, I had already cooked pasta on hand, and I really (really) wanted Middle Eastern food. What’s a hungry mama to do? Why, make this Pasta with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Buttered Pine Nuts, of course.
The sauce for this super quick meal was inspired by the Swiss Chard with Yogurt Sauce & Buttered Pine Nuts I made a while back and worked perfectly with pasta. I also had leftover grilled eggplant that had been tossed in olive oil and red wine vinegar. I added that to the grown up portions, which was delicious. In fact, if my normally pretty good eaters didn’t loath eggplant so much, I would have officially added it to the recipe. What can I say: sometimes you compromise.
If you love Middle Eastern food, this is a keeper. It’s an easy and accessible way to bring Middle Eastern flavors to your dinner table without introducing anything too crazy.
Pasta with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Buttered Pine Nuts
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
1 lb favorite cut pasta
1 cup plain yogurt
Juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Put a large pot of salted water on medium-high heat (about 6 qts water to 2 tablespoons salt) and bring to a boil. Add pasta, stir and wait until the water returns to a boil to set cooking time. If you want al dente pasta, cook it for 2 minutes fewer than indicated on package. Drain, saving a mugful of cooking water, and set pasta aside. Do not rinse it! (If you’d like to cook the pasta in advance of up to three days, check out my instructions on how to perfectly pre-cook pasta.)
2. While the pasta cooks, in a medium bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice to taste, garlic, and olive oil; set aside.
3. Also while the pasta cooks, toast the pine nuts: Melt butter in a small pan set over medium heat until foamy. Add pine nuts, toss to coat well and continue cooking, periodically stirring the pine nuts so that they don’t burn, until they turn golden brown. Once they begin turning brown, watch the pine nuts carefully since the color will deepen and they will burn quickly. Set aside.
4. Return drained pasta to its pot. Temper the yogurt sauce by adding a splash of the still-hot cooking water to it while stirring continuously. Once the sauce is warm to the touch, add it to the pasta, turn the heat on low, and toss to coat. After about 30 seconds, if the sauce is too thick or isn’t clinging to the pasta, add a splash of cooking water.
5. Once the pasta is well dressed, turn off the heat and add the buttered pine nuts, mint, parsley, crumbled feta, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm (the pasta will soak this sauce up and become dry if it sits too long).
*Note: This is a great first pasta to share with little eaters. Just be sure to puree, mash or cut into age appropriate bite sizes. You can also add green peas or some other favorite veggie or veggie puree.