Thursday, August 18, 2011

tahini yogurt pasta salad.

there are few things i enjoy more than a sunny day, a new city, and a farmers' market. the sights, the smells, (the free samples), the assorted unrecognizable produce: it's all so intoxicating. i've been lucky to have spent the past two weekends in cities outside of cozy bremen, where my hosts took me to some food markets i'd probably pay a cover charge to enter again. for those in the area, london's borough market and munich's viktualienmarkt are both delightful places to go completely broke buying fruits, veggies, cheeses, honey, jams, etc. the former also boasts the world's greatest granola (helloooo shameless plugging!).

whether it's a new cheese or an unfamiliar chili, it's inspiring encountering new foods and trying to figure out ways to cook with them. unfortunately, the reality of having lived in bremen for three years is that i generally know which produce i'm going to run across at which time of the year. 

and yet! this little german city seems to still have a few tricks up its sleeve! if you remember my giddy astonishment upon finding portobello mushrooms earlier this summer, you can also probably imagine how excited i was to run across romanesco broccoli last week. granted, romanesco broccoli isn't the most exotic vegetable around, but it isn't easy to come by in these parts. i immediately purchased a head and ran (or more realistically: skipped gleefully) home to find a recipe for the evening.

this creative pasta salad (originally from the culinary genius that is 101 cookbooks) calls for broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans. i left out the latter two and swapped in some romanesco. the recipe was a hit - even my broccoli skeptical boyfriend was taking extra helpings! really though, the best part is the sauce, which comes together in minutes from tahini, yogurt, and fragrantly cooked spices. you can mix the sauce into the salad before serving, but i followed the original instructions and served each plate with a large dollop of it on top. there wasn't a trace of pasta left, and the extra sauce only lasted one day in the fridge before being devoured atop a frittata the next night.

broccoli pasta salad with tahini yogurt dressing

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 big handfuls of romanesco broccoli florets
1 handful broccoli florets
225 g short pasta
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

start by chop the cherry tomatoes and drizzling a little olive oil and salt and pepper over them. place in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes.

now bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.

while the water is coming to a boil, you can make the sauce. heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric. stir well, and saute for about 30 seconds, or until the spices are toasted and fragrant. transfer this mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the water, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. taste and adjust to your liking. set aside.

when the water is ready, boil the romanesco and “normal” broccoli for about 30 seconds. fish out with a slotted spoon and run under cold water to stop cooking. drain well and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

return the water to a boil and add the pasta. cook until al dente, then drain and run under cold water. add to the vegetables. add the tomatoes, cilantro, and basil. toss gently. mix in the sauce at this point or serve the salad with the sauce on the side. everyone can take as much of a dollop as they like.