Genius Recipes

12 Gutsy Ways to Give Yogurt Pasta A Lift, From Meaty to Extra Green

September 22, 2016

Big Sunday dinners anchor the upcoming week, especially if you make a little extra. We partnered with Tillamook to join the #RealFoodSunday movement, encouraging families to cook and eat Real Food together once a week, but especially on Sundays.

“This secret just might change your life: You can, and should, dress pasta with Greek yogurt,” says the headnote for one of our favorite Genius Recipes—and it’s a trick we use again and again. Because just because a recipe is genius doesn’t mean it can’t be tweaked and altered a little to make it your own.

Creamy without cream and hearty-yet-light, yogurt makes for a low-effort, high-reward pasta sauce, especially on lazy Sundays with the family when you're all about tossing in what the pantry's giving you.

Don’t like caramelized onions? Don’t use them. Want to add some green in the form of creamed kale? Do it. Have some pancetta lying around? Get it crispy and toss it in. If you've made Diane Kochilas’ Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions before, add-ins will breathe new life into what is surely now a favorite meal. If not, well, there’s no better time to make it then now. Here are some delicious—and dare we say approaching genius—ways to change up yogurt pasta.

Mix these into the pasta:

  • Frozen peas: Thaw them first, keep warm, then toss with the pasta and yogurt mixture.

  • Mushrooms: If you want classic, straight-up sauteed mushrooms all you need is butter, raw mushrooms, salt, and a hot pan with plenty of space for optimal browning. However, if you have a bit more time, try bathing mushrooms in olive oil with plenty of sliced garlic for a confit that’s Genius all on its own. (Bonus: The leftover oil can be used for cooking eggs, searing chicken thighs, in dressing, and anywhere that welcomes umami flavor.)

  • Creamed greens: Spicy, slightly bitter greens—like kale, chard, and mustard—like cream, which tames them, yet accentuates their earthy flavor. Taking a cue from Amanda Hesser’s penne recipe, broccoli rabe is a welcome addition (as is pancetta, see below).

  • Pancetta (or bacon): Cook diced pancetta until rendered and crisp. Alternatively, you can use strips of bacon, crumbing it after desired doneness is reached.

  • Basil: For a pop of brightness, add 1 to 1 ½ cups fresh basil, torn, to the pasta.

  • Change the cheese: Although the recipe calls for kefalotyri cheese or pecorino Romano, Greek-style yogurt also pairs well with other strong, salty cheeses like feta or ricotta salata.

  • A kinda carbonara: Forget the eggs, but keep the bacon, black pepper, and parmesan. Traditional? No. Delicious? Yes.

  • Kale Pesto (or really any pesto): Mix pesto with yogurt (use as much or as little as your want), before tossing in the pasta.

Or put these on top:

  • Crispy prosciutto: Heat thin slices of prosciutto in a skillet until crisp. Crumble, then scatter on top of the pasta to preserve the prosciutto’s crispiness.

  • Pine nut-chile oil: Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s yogurt pasta in his book Jerusalem, heat 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon Aleppo chile pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup pine nuts in a small saucepan until the nuts are golden brown. Drizzle on top of the pasta.

  • Bacon Jam: Cooking bacon with a heap of onions, paprika, garlic, sugar, plus maple syrup, vinegar, and beer transforms it into a spreadable paste worthy of being dolloped on top of pasta—and, of course, toast.

  • Fried Greens Meatlessballs: Like a meatless version of spaghetti and meatballs, adding these pan-fried, herbaceous orbs to pasta transforms the dish into something more filling.

For my version, that'll serve four and leave some for your next lunch, I borrowed elements of Trent Pierce's Miso Creamed Kale and added it my spicy twist on yogurt pasta.

What would you put into yogurt pasta? Tell us in the comments below!

Shop the Story

Tillamook invites you to join the #RealFoodSunday movement, which encourages cooking, eating, and sharing food together. Share your meals by tagging them #RealFoodSunday, get more tips and inspiration for your Sunday dinners, and find Tillamook Greek Yogurt here.

Listen & Subscribe

From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

Listen & Subscribe

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.

1 Comment

Rhonda35 September 27, 2016
Great ideas! I'm especially intrigued by the fried greens "meatballs."