Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Silk Road Spaghetti

Much like the Silk Road itself, this is a dish of East meets West. This recipe combines a Mediterranean-inspired tomato sauce with zingy Afghan spices, Indian yogurt and ghee, a Persian raisin/almond combination, and fiery Chinese-style chilies. If the Mongol hordes had just had this dish at home, it's unlikely they would have ever bothered with all that unfortunate pillaging and looting.

Prep time: 2 cocktails

10-12 ounces of dry whole wheat spaghetti 
1 ½ pounds fresh tomatoes, stems removed and quartered
3 ounces tomato paste
3 TBSP olive oil or ghee
3 cinnamon sticks
4 large bay leaves
1 large red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-5 fresh cayenne pappers or spicy Chinese chilies, chopped
1¼  tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 TBSP Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/2  cup plain yogurt, use full-fat ONLY
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP coarsely chopped or slivered almonds, optional

Cook pasta as you prepare all the other ingredients. When it’s done, toss with a bit of olive oil and set it aside in covered container.

Combine the tomatoes and tomato paste in food processor and puree into a totally smooth sauce. Set aside.

In large frying pan or wok, heat the oil or ghee on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Allow them to fry in the oil for 10 second before adding onions, and chilies. Sauté until onions become lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and sauté one more minute. Next, stir in tomato puree, salt, oregano, parsley, and raisins.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium. Cook sauce 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove sauce from heat and allow to cool at least 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in yogurt and almonds (if using). Adjust salt to taste.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta and the sauce well. If the pasta and sauce have cooled too much, return it all to the stovetop and heat it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it’s warm enough.

Serve with Parmesan cheese on top. 

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