There is no heavy cream to be found in this dish. In a thoroughly Italian-seeming medley, I channeled the Middle East and replaced heavy cream with yogurt to create the ideal combination of light and hearty in early spring. A healthy mix of whole wheat fusilli, supported by a tangy basil-infused yogurt combines with slivers of toasted almonds and a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese to tease the palate into craving more. A pinch of hot pepper flakes delivers a hint of heat that lingers only as an aftertaste. Texture and nuttiness, fresh herbs and heat, sharp notes of cheese over heaping spoons of pasta provide an excellent transition out of the spring holidays and propel us toward the warmer months, which I will welcome with open arms.
- 16 oz Greek Yogurt (I use fat free)
- 10 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 lb fusilli pasta
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 2 1/2 cups basil leaves coarsely torn
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper for taste
In a food processor combine the yogurt, garlic, half of the peas, half of the basil, 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Combine until uniformly green and transfer to a large bowl.
Cook the pasta in boiling water for about 10 minutes. It should be al dente. As the pasta cooks, heat the rest of the oil and add the almonds and chili flakes. Fry until golden. Also heat up the rest of the peas in some boiling water then drain.
Drain the cooked pasta into a colander. Add pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce, one ladle at a time so the yogurt doesn’t curdle. Add the rest of the peas, basil, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to individual bowls and add the almonds and their oil.