22.9 C
Brunei
Thursday, October 6, 2022
22.9 C
Brunei
Thursday, October 6, 2022
More
    - Advertisement -
    - Advertisement -

    Rich, versatile no-cook pasta sauces

    Ann Maloney

    THE WASHINGTON POST – You know that little tingle of excitement you feel when Netflix is about to drop a new season of your favourite show? I get that feeling when I find out Sabrina Ghayour is about to release a new cookbook.

    Recently, I ripped open a thick envelope and found an advance copy of her Persiana Everyday. The book is due out in October.

    I’m a fan because Ghayour writes for the harried home cook who wants big flavour.

    “I cook every day. I’ve cooked every day since I was a kid – every meal in the house,” she said in a phone call from home in the United Kingdom. The Iranian British chef has written about growing up an only child in a house with parents who did not cook. She credits that with freeing her from being hidebound by tradition and giving her room to experiment.

    When I asked Ghayour about the deftness of her tightly written recipes, the author said,”I’m phenomenally lazy. I don’t like washing things if I don’t have to.”

    She often refers to herself as “stubborn”, saying she respects classic cooking techniques, but in her day-to-day life as a working stepmom, she leans into efficiency and away from what she calls “momma cooking”, cooking it the way it has always been done, following specific rules, a firm ingredient list and using multiple bowls, pots and pans.

    “I wanted to be a commercially available Middle Eastern girl,” she said of her food writing and recipe development. “I want people to cook from my books – not do one amazing feast that took 15 hours to prepare and then put the book back on the shelf.

    From left: Walnut, spinach and herb with zucchini; yoghurt, tarragon and pistachio; and pepper, harissa and tomato. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

    “If you really want to be truthful, there is really not that much authenticity in this book, because I made this up. My whole ethos and style is stripping things back from the perspective of what we don’t need. If, as Persians, we have certain ingredients that you have to hunt down, I’m like, don’t use that.”

    Case in point: Several simple recipes feature rose harissa, the Tunisian chilli paste with rose petals or water for a more floral note.

    I told her I struggled to choose a recipe from her latest cookbook because I’m tempted by so many, including her harissa and lemon roasted chicken thighs, in which the chicken is slathered with a mixture of harissa, yoghurt, lemon juice and zest and baked until slightly charred. “I’m making them right now,” she said. “I really make them all the time. They’re just like a two-minute no-brainer. I can have the chicken with wraps or rice and tomorrow it will go into a curry.”

    When I mentioned how often she uses harissa in her recipes, Ghayour said, “I live in a village with no grocery store, no shops, so I use the same things over and over again.”

    Harissa is one of the condiments she urged home cooks to keep on hand because it is so versatile. “It’s great stirred into pasta sauces. It’s great in stir-fries to make it spicy. It’s great in salad dressing. It’s great in butter compounds. It’s just that completely giving ingredient that you cannot stop using.” Still, she said, if you don’t have it, substitute your favourite chilli paste.

    “In terms of food, (the pandemic) has been an education that I didn’t expect,” she said. “It made us realise that, as cooking professionals, we’re lucky our pantries are stocked a little better with somewhat hard-to-find ingredients.”

    The recipe I eventually settled on is a 10-minute, no-cook pepper, harissa and tomato pasta sauce, which has multiple uses.

    Ghayour encouraged me to imagine quickly pan-frying bone-in chicken thighs, then baking them with this sauce and a handful of salty black olives. The pepper sauce also is great with cubed potatoes for a patatas bravas-style dish or tossed with lamb meatballs.

    She included recipes for two other no-cook pasta sauces on the same page, and I tried those as well. She also recommends serving the walnut, spinach and herb with zucchini pasta sauce over thin, breaded chicken cutlets with a squeeze of lemon, while the yoghurt, tarragon and pistachio pasta sauce pairs well with lamb or kefta kebabs.

    All three of these sauces freeze beautifully. I know because I made them all in one night and sampled each, and then froze the leftovers.

    WALNUT, SPINACH AND HERB WITH ZUCCHINI PASTA SAUCE

    Ingredients

    – One pound spaghetti or your favourite pasta shape
    – Fine salt
    – Two medium zucchini, coarsely grated
    – One-and-two-third cups fresh spinach leaves
    – Half cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
    – One-third cup coarsely chopped raw walnuts
    – About one-third cup olive oil, or more as needed
    – One large clove garlic
    – One-quarter cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
    – One-quarter cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
    – Juice of one lime
    – Freshly ground black pepper

    Directions

    Fill a large pot with water, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, with just a little bit of bite.

    While the pasta is cooking, place the zucchini, spinach, cheese, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, basil, cilantro and lime juice in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth. If the sauce seems too dry, add more olive oil, one tablespoon at a time. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over it and, using tongs or two big forks, toss to coat. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and parsley leaves, if desired. Serve, family-style, with parmesan cheese on the side.

    YOGHURT, TARRAGON AND PISTACHIO PASTA SAUCE

    Ingredients

    – One pound spaghetti or your favourite pasta shape
    – Fine salt
    – One cup Greek yoghurt
    – Two-third cup unsalted raw pistachio nuts
    – One-quarter cup tightly packed fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
    – Two tablespoons olive or garlic oil
    – Freshly ground black pepper
    – Grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

    Directions

    Fill a large pot with water, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt, add the pasta and stir, making sure all is submerged. Cook according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, with just a little bit of bite.

    While the pasta is boiling, place the yoghurt, pistachios, tarragon and oil in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to a large bowl.

    Pour the sauce over it and, using tongs or two big forks, toss to coat. Sprinkle with tarragon leaves and season with freshly cracked pepper. Serve, family style, with parmesan or vegan cheese on the side.

    PEPPER, HARISSA AND TOMATO PASTA SAUCE

    Ingredients

    – One pound your favourite pasta shape
    – Fine salt
    – Two large red, orange or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
    – Six ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
    – Two large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    – Two tablespoons rose harissa
    – Freshly ground black pepper
    – Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

    Directions

    Fill a large pot with water, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt, add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, place the bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and harissa in a blender and process until smooth. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

    Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over it and, using tongs or two big forks, toss to coat. Serve with parmesan cheese, if desired.

    - Advertisement -
    spot_img

    Latest article

    - Advertisement -
    spot_img