Pasta with Yoghurt & Spinach
250 grams blanched spinach
450 grams labneh* or hung yoghurt
250 grams conchiglie* (or any shell shaped pasta)
zest of a lemon
3 cloves garlic
2 tsps salt + more for the pasta water
pul biber or dhara mirch (if in pakistan)
toasted flaked almonds
some notes on the recipe: i like to use conchiglie; a large shell shaped pasta. i like the shape but more importantly the crevices in the pasta mean that the sauce settles into the hollow. if you cannot find conchiglie use a pasta shape that would allow the sauce a space to settle.
labne is easy to make. it is essentially hung yoghurt. i like to use greek or full fat yoghurt. a kilogram of yoghurt yields roughly the amount you need for this recipe. follow my instructions here to make labne.
make a rough paste from the garlic and salt using a pestle and mortar. chop the blanched spinach. zest the lemon.
heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a wok or saucepan that is large enough to accommodate the pasta. add the garlic paste and lemon zest. fry them gently until the garlic looses its raw edge and browns lightly. turn the heat up and add the spinach. sauté briefly. the spinach should remain bright. remove from the heat and allow the pan to cool slightly before stirring in the labne.
cook the pasta until al dente. make sure that you salt the pasta water generously. i like to follow bee wilson’s rule that states that the water should be as salty as the sea. drain the pasta reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta liquor.
add the pasta to the yoghurt sauce and stir gently until the pasta is coated with the sauce. add a little of the reserved pasta liquor if the sauce is too thick. you want a creamy texture.
drizzle with extra olive oil. sprinkle with pul biber and some toasted almonds. eat.