"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mediterranean Pasta

I made this pasta recently for my friend, Sarah, and I as a simple, easy week night dinner. I am a huge fan of pretty much any Mediterranean flavor combination. This particular dish pulls from Greece, Spain, Israel and Italy, however, the ingredients are common place in all the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. I really like tahini but I have only ever had it in hummus and halva. I decided to try and use tahini as a base for a pasta sauce and it ended up working out wonderfully and giving the pasta a more powerful flavor. Tahini is essentially a sesame paste. When you see tahini served in Middle Eastern restaurants, it has most likely been diluted with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic so that it can be used as a dipping sauce. Standard tahini paste would be too strong for a dipping sauce. For my pasta I used the paste because I needed something strong to hold up against all the other flavors. Tahini can have a peculiar flavor to some so I recommend adding it slowly and tasting along the way.

Mediterranean Pasta

Whole wheat penne
Frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Stuffed Spanish olives
Pitted kalamata olives
Tahini paste
5 garlic cloves, minced
Lemon juice
Olive oil

1. Bring pot of water to a boil and prepare the pasta.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and olives and let simmer for a few minutes. Add sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas, drizzle with lemon juice and more olive oil if necessary and saute for about 4 minutes. Add pasta and then pour tahini paste over mixture and gently mix with a wooden spatula to incorporate. You want the pasta to be generously coated with the tahini.
3. Allow ingredients and flavors to sit for a little bit to heat the pasta through. Enjoy with some white wine.

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