We’ve entered full-on summer. I surface from sleep as the chirping coming in through the open window grows to symphonic levels. While my limbs are still loose and clumsy, I head out to exercise. When I return, just before Alexi leaves for work, Abbott is always awake; Cal never is. I have my morning coffee, thick and murky, over ice.
On the days it isn’t raining, the boys and I spend hours reading outside. They wear themselves out playing games with neighbors and exploring the woods around our house. I make a stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at noon, and invariably set an extra plate at dinner.
My friend Molly and her baby daughter June came over for dinner last night. When they walked through the door, June locked eyes with Cal, then Abbott, and then Cal again, and her face broke into a wide grin.
As Molly and I talked and talked, June successfully scaled a stair; we all cheered. The boys unpacked a bin of baby toys for her, stacking towers of blocks, showing her how to swivel the rotating head of a small plastic dog, handing her a rattle.
Despite it being the longest day of the year, I’d made lamb stew for us that foggy morning, as if it was January. I told Molly, somewhat apologetically, that the night before I had made the most incredible pasta dish I’d ever made, full of basil and peas; full of summer. So it’s not that I don’t like, or make, summery meals. She said she’d just made split pea soup; she understood. Occasional wintery meals in summer pretty much sums up summer in Seattle. Also, lo and behold, she had made the exact same pasta two nights ago! And had felt the same way about it.
Pasta with Yogurt, Peas and Chile
slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Everything I’ve made from this book, I’ve loved. It’s a great one to have.
The warm pasta heats the sauce, and makes the feta creamy. The zing of heat is surprising, and elevates this dish to the sublime.
2 ½ cups (500g) whole milk Greek yogurt
2/3 cup (150ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound (500g) fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 pound (500g) conchiglie pasta, or other pasta shape of your choosing
½ cup (60g) pine nuts
2 tsp Turkish or Syrian chile flakes, or red pepper flakes
1 2/3 cups (40g) basil leaves, coarsely torn
8 oz (240g) feta cheese, broken into chunks (I like French feta)
Put the yogurt, 6 tablespoons (90ml) of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup (100g) of the peas in a food processor. Blend until you have a uniform pale green sauce. Transfer the sauce to a large mixing bowl.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until it is 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 or red pepper flakes, and cook until the pine nuts are golden and the oil is deep red, 4-5 minutes. Heat the remaining peas in boiling water, then drain.
Drain the cooked pasta in a colander, and shake well to get rid of all the water. 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 kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon white pepper. Toss gently, transfer to individual bowls, and spoon over the pine nuts and their oil.
Yield: about 6 servings