After a lot festive indulgence I fancied something a little less creamy and all out fattening in those weird days between Christmas and New Year's eve when no one really knows what weekday it is anymore, you forget what it's like to wear normal clothes and all normal eating and drinking patterns have but disappeared.
On this Friday night dinner occasion I was hosting my lovely friends Will and Charlie who promised to sort the cocktails while I was put in charge of the cooking part of the evening, searching the internet for a flavourful main that suited all our tastes and requirements, Charlie being both a veggie and lactose intolerant (though that was no real issue for me in any case as pescatarian that only eats fish occasionally).
Yotam Ottolenghi has always been one of my favourite chefs for recipe inspiration and once again this pasta dish didn't let me down. The rose harissa, the key ingredient in the sauce, adds a really unique, spicy yet fragrant depth of flavour and was it a sauce like I have never had before while the capers and black olives add a punchy salty note. A dollop of greek yogurt (leave out or substitute for soy yogurt if required) adds a zingy cooling touch and overall this mash up Middle eastern / Italian fusion dish was incredibly tasty without being too heavy, warming yet letting each ingredient shine. This is definitely one to be added to my regular recipe repertoire and super easy to rustle up for a group! Make sure you do get the rose harissa (available at Waitrose and Sainsbury's) rather than normal harissa as the rose really does make a huge difference here and enjoy! I for one welcomed the vibrant colours of this dish very much after a lot of festive beigeness.
2 tbsp olive oil1 large onion, thinly sliced (220g)
3 tbsp rose harissa (or 50% more or less, depending on variety: see p.301) (45g)
400g cherry tomatoes, halved
55g pitted Kalamata olives, torn in half
20g baby capers
500g dried tagliatelle pasta (or another wide, flat pasta)
15g parsley, roughly chopped
120g Greek-style yoghurt
1. Put the oil into a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, and place on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the onion and fry for 8 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until soft and caramelised. Add the harissa, tomatoes, olives, capers and ½ teaspoon of salt and continue to fry for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add 200ml of water and stir through. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid of the sauce and continue to cook for 4–5 minutes, until the sauce is thick and rich. Stir in 10g of the parsley and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with plenty of salted water and place on a high heat. Once boiling, add the pappardelle and cook according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain well.
3. Return the pasta to the pot along with the harissa sauce and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Mix together well, then divide between four shallow bowls. Serve hot, with a spoonful of yoghurt and a final sprinkle of parsley.