Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lumache (Pasta) with Saffron, Capers and Raisins: Sweet, Savory & Tangy Ottolenghi Pasta Goodness

What did we do before the iPhone? And its many apps of course. How else can you sit in front of the grocery store deciding that it might behoove you to actually think about and shop for the weekly Yotam Ottolenghi recipe at least a few days in advance so as not to have to make yet another trip to the store? (Please do refrain from pointing out that this "advance" planning might better have been completed even earlier at home, before actually going to the store rather than in the parking lot.) One quick look at the Ottolenghi iPhone recipe app, and seeing a dish with my beloved capers along with an interesting combination of ingredients, and I was sold on this Pasta with Saffron, Capers and Raisins. I even had most of the ingredients required at home--just needing to pick up an appropriate pasta and some green olives from the olive bar. 

(Besides the app, this recipe can also be found online at The Guardian website.)

This recipe called for conchiglie pasta (shells) but the only shells I could find at my local store were either the teeny-tiny ones or the giant ones you could stuff a small car into. I ended up with an in-the-middle-sized lumache pasta (snails), which held the sauce and all it's good bits equally as well and makes this dish special. 

Pasta with Saffron, Capers and Raisins
By Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 2) (I think this serves at least 3 generously)

6 celery stalks
1/3 cup olive oil (I reduced to about 3 Tbsp of olive oil)
1/4 cup pine nuts, roughly broken (I left some whole and crushed some)
3 Tbsp capers, plus 2 tbsp of their brine
10 large green olives, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 generous pinch saffron, mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
1 1/2 tsp white-wine vinegar
2/3 cup raisins, soaked in water (I used golden raisins)
9 oz conchiglie pasta (I subbed Lumache pasta)
1 cup chopped parsley

grated zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (no need for salt)

grated Parmesan, optional

Trim any leaves from the celery (leave whole or chop roughly and save them for later) and cut the stalks into 1/2-inch dice. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat and add the diced celery and pine nuts. Stir as you fry for a minute or two, or just until the nuts begin to brown--be careful as they can easily burn. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the capers and their brine, the olives, saffron and its water, the vinegar and the drained raisins. Set aside.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain into a colander and shake well. Add the pasta into the sauce pan, place over medium high heat and cook everything together, stirring gently. Once hot, stir in the parsley, lemon zest, garlic and plenty of black pepper. Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer to serving plates or bowls, scatter the reserved celery leaves on top and finish with a little Parmesan, if you like.

Notes/Results: Yum! If you are a caper and olive fan, you will enjoy this pasta dish. The bites of the pasta with all of the great ingredients tucked inside are full of so much flavor--like like. Ottolenghi notes the complex "sweet and sour flavors" in this dish but I think of it as more sweet, savory and tangy than sour. This recipe has some great texture from the still-slightly-crunchy celery and pine nuts and the sweetness from the raisins contrasts well with all of the briny ingredients. I confess that I normally either toss out my celery leaves or toss them into a freezer bag of veggie scraps that I use for stock but I actually liked them tossed with the pasta at the end--they add a certain freshness to the dish.  

A couple of recipe notes--I reduced the amount of oil and with the salt of the olives, capers and Parmesan if you add it, it does not need to add any extra salt. Ottolenghi says the recipe is for 2 servings but I would got 3 very generous servings out of it. Satisfying and really good, I would make this dish again. 

This weeks IHCC theme is Use Your Noodle--celebrating pasta in all its glory. You can check out all the Ottolenghi pasta and noodle creations by going to the post and following the links.  


  1. Thank god for apps and smartphones! Though I had no idea that the ottolenghi app existed! I have a feeling it is going to become a staple in my life. This pasta sounds so good...I love the combination of sweet and salty from the raisins and capers!

  2. There's an Ottolenghi app!!!! Raisins and capers are my best friends, so this is definitely going on my list!

  3. Oh lal la! ANOTHER great YO pasta dish! I think everyone hit the jackpot this week! Perhaps this is because I am a pasta addict ... what ever. This is a winner recipe!

  4. kitchen flavoursMay 16, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Oh yum indeed! Looks delicious! I've wanted to make this initially, but ended up with the Fettuccine with Spring Onion just because I have all the ingredients for that! This looks so good, and I love all the ingredients in it! Darn! Maybe one of these days, I'll just make an effort to get the ingredients for these!

  5. I've never seen this shape of pasta--I'm intrigued. Really like the looks of it, curvy and elegant. But practical! It holds some of the other ingredients as if you stuffed it.

  6. I love the look of this! Such a great combination of flavours with the salty and sweet (and I LOVE raisins, olives, and capers). Thanks for sharing this :)

    And I agree..... how did we survive without these magical phones?

  7. This really looks yummy! The recipe was on my shortlist too.

    I'm finding many of Ottolenghi's recipes are way long on fats, even more than Madhur Jaffrey I think. (And I think her later books may have gotten a bit better in this area, but his books are only recent in comparison.)

  8. My kind of pasta & I love capers & olives :) And then a little sweetness from the raisins sounds just delightful. And there's an app??? I am off to the app store!!


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