More Recipe Variations: Pasta with Peas

Last post I took a vegan scone recipe and showed some variations I made on it; I'm going to stick to the "existing recipe + variations" theme at least one more time with a great pasta recipe for playing around with. The recipe is pasta with a green pea & yogurt sauce from Yotam Ottolenghi and republished in a few online places, including this Orangette post.

The basic premise is that you're dressing pasta with a puree of green peas (frozen ones work just fine) and Greek yogurt. Adding chili flakes gives it some oomph - and I actually add Sichuan chili paste instead of the flakes because I think Sichuan chilis, along with Sichuan peppercorns, taste great with green peas and pasta. I won't take credit for that insight, it comes from a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe. 

What I enjoy about this recipe is that it's one where you can recreate a taste of summer (or at least spring) in a Vermont winter*. Of course, just because this recipe uses vegetables in a way that will fly in wintertime, doesn't mean you can't load it up with different herbs and veggies when they're in season now. Tomatoes, for example, thin sliced, salted and peppered, and laid over top or underneath a scoop of this pasta works great (in wintertime, finely diced sun dried tomatoes work). Serving with fresh sweet corn, also great. Although I'm in an anti-sweet corn mood right now because the varieties I'm finding in the market are so sweet they've crossed the line into icky. Even something like fresh onions, minced and raw. Ooh if you have Romano beans available to you, roast the heck out of them and serve them alongside this dish, with some cured meat or fancy bacon, that's a meal. 

You can also change up the sauce itself, not just what it's tossed with. It's very versatile. Here's a simple tweak that I do to add some new flavors:

Wasabi-Pea Pasta

  •  2 ½ cups whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • Either 2 Tb finely minced fresh mint or 2 tsp dried cilantro + 1 tsp dried mint pulverized in a spice grinder
  • 2 tsp - 4 tsp Wasabi powder (depending on your level of love for wasabi)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tb rice vinegar
  • 2 Tb mayo
  • 2/3 cup fresh or thawed frozen green peas
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound thawed frozen edamame (not in the shell!)
  • 4 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 pound small pasta shapes (I used small shells)
  • 8 ounces (240 g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • Chili oil if you want things hotter

Add the yogurt, herbs, spices, vinegar, mayo and peas to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add the olive oil and mix until just combined.

Cook the pasta per package directions. While it's cooking, saute the edamame in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt until it begins to show a little color. You're doing this to keep it from tasting mushy in the final pasta dish. 

Toss together sauce, pasta, edamame, scallions and feta cheese. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.  

If only I'd remembered to take a picture of any version of this pasta, I could end with a triumphant final image. . . but alas, none.

*Another trick for making vegetable dishes taste summery in winter - pureed green tomatoes. At the end of summer, pick any tomatoes that are green and have started to soften but won't get fully ripe before the frost, puree them, simmer them to reduce by about a third to a half, then freeze in ice cube tray sized portions. You can also add in greens or ripe tomatoes to that mix. Then throw the cubes into wintertime dishes to add a dash of summer. I credit Bill Jordan with discovering this trick (and also with growing pretty awesome tomatoes).