Persian-Style Pasta

November 4, 2014

Persian-Style Pasta

I took this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Plenty More.
If you don't know who am I talking about, Yotam Ottolenghi is one of those chefs. 
The ones whose names sell millions of cookbooks around the world, and influence the food community like no other — and not just on a culinary level.
If you’ve recently eaten a shakshuka, or yogurt and sumac with your turkey burger, it’s probably because of chef Ottolenghi.
In only a few years, the Israeli-raised, London-based chef has become a prominent figure in the culinary community.
His first cookbook, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, was a bestseller. The following one, Plenty, almost instantly became a blockbuster when it was published in 2010. Jerusalem, published in 2012, is a richly evocative celebration of the culinary DNA of his homeland and one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.
With Plenty More - published last month - Ottolenghi focuses on vegetarian cooking, combining recipes from all over the world: exotic, innovative, irresistible, dazzling, and easy-to-make dishes. Vegetarian recipes ‘that even meat eaters want to eat’.

Ottolenghi's Plenty was great, but dare I say Plenty More may be even better? There, I've said it!
Plenty More's 120 vegetarian recipes look absolutely stunning, there’s not a single one I would not make.
They are organized according to cooking techniques (such as tossed, steamed, blanched, etc.) which - although a bit confusing at the beginning - provides a new perspective on how recipes could (and maybe should?) be organized.
There's something creatively energizing about following a recipe written by someone you genuinely admire.
When you start cooking, you already know that something amazing will come out of the pan. Towards the end of the process, when the whole kitchen smells amazing and you can’t wait to taste it, you start to get sad because you know it will be gone soon.
Except that you can make it again and again. Done it once -> done it a thousand times.

Persian-Style Pasta
This Persian/Iranian pasta caught my attention the first time I leafed through Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook.
It features an enticing sauce for pasta made with baked eggplant fragrant with cumin, onion, and garlic, topped with a rich sauce made with creme fraiche, Parmesan and Greek yogurt. A final touch of mint oil, chopped fresh mint and saffron water and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Trust me when I say that this recipe is a total revelation.
It’s something you’ve (probably) never tasted before. It’s rich and subtle and not too strong.
It pulls you out of your comfort zone and takes your taste buds on a journey of wonderment.
Persian-Style Pasta

Persian-Style Pasta                                                                                       Print this recipe!
Adapted from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi

Serves 6

3 medium eggplants (about 2 ¾ lb/ 1.2 kg in total)
½ cup / 90 gr creme fraiche (or heavy cream)
½ cup / 40 gr grated Parmesan cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
⅔ cup / 5.3 oz / 150 gr Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons dried mint
Pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water
Handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
Olive oil
Fine grain salt
Ground black pepper to taste

1 lb / 453 gr linguine, spaghetti or thin noodles (I used Ancient Harvest quinoa spaghetti)


Preheat the oven to 450º F (230ºC) and place a rack in the middle.
Pierce the eggplants in a few places with a sharp knife and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, until the flesh is soft.
Set aside and let cool for 15 minutes.
Cut in half, spoon out the eggplant flesh into a colander, and let drain.
In the meantime, place the creme fraiche and grated Parmesan cheese in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and whisk until smooth.
Add Greek yogurt, lower the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly (you don’t want the yogurt to separate). Set aside.
In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil with dried mint and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cumin seeds and saute’ for 10 to 12 minutes until soft and golden, stirring every now and then.
Add eggplant flesh, crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of of ground black pepper. Cook for 4 minutes, until heated through.
Add lemon juice, cook for 1 further minute and remove from the heat.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook pasta “al dente” (it should retain a bite).
Drain, stir a bit of olive oil through the pasta, mix, and then divide among shallow bowls or plates.
Drizzle the mint oil over the top, followed by the eggplant mixtures. Top this with the creme fraiche-yogurt mixture, followed by the saffron water, chopped fresh mint, and a final drizzle of olive oil.

Nutrition facts

One serving of the sauce (just the sauce) yields 202 calories, 11 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of protein.


  1. Thank you for introducing me to the man behind Shakshuka, Mike! I am totally intrigued by the way the 120 recipes in "Plenty More" are organized - and they are vegetarian - which is what 90% of the meals in my house are!
    That eggplant mixture w/cumin and saffron sounds wonderful!

    1. Yotam Ottolenghi is such a great source of inspiration for me, I'm 100% you're going to love his cookbooks as well!

  2. Loved your writing on this one as well as the photos. Definitely trying it out and getting the book. I have seen it 3 times now and it's calling me!

  3. Hi Mike, must of not paid much attention to this recipe when I thumbed through his book, now that I see it, I must make it. Looks delicious!

  4. Yum! Made the beer chicken teriyaki last night, so good!

  5. You beat me to it.... this is one of the recipes I bookmarked to make soon - but, of course even if I had made it now, it would take me a while to blog about it - my list of stuff in line to be published is huge.

    Still, I will check the book and see what were your changes to the recipe, as I remember making a few mental tweaks when I read it

    great book!

    1. It is such a great cookbook, I've marked like 80 recipes. I'm glad I started with this one because it's fantastic!

  6. This pasta looks like nothing I've ever tasted before! I actually just ate at a Persian restaurant a few weeks ago and really enjoyed the food, now I definitely want to try more of that cuisine.

    1. Persian cuisine is fantastic, the more I learn about it the more I want to know.

    2. Mike, I hope you don't mind if I include a link to my site here, but I think you would LOVE this book...

    3. I don't mind at all, to the contrary, thank you for this!

  7. Can you sir do me the most amazing of favors and...... Fly on out to Los Angeles so we can go persian restaurant hoping the entire time you're here?! Persian food = MY LIFE (well aside from Japanese, lol).... Ugh, I dream shawarma and kabob!

  8. I've never ventured into Persian food. However, I love that they are all vegetarian. This pasta dish looks delish and filling!

    1. Persian food is an excellent cuisine and it's totally underrated in the US im my opinion: it's time to discover it!

  9. After 14 hours of traveling with Naomi and the boys, nothing sounds better than this, Mike! Love it. Amazing pics as always.

    1. 14 hours of traveling? That is one long journey. Glad you guys made it in one piece!

  10. Look at you showcasing half my heritage- my mum's side would be so proud of this dish! Your photography is epic mate- I'd like plenty more of it.

    1. I love Persian cuisine and you should share more of your mom' recipes. It would be nice of you...just saying...

  11. This is totally the definition of a "vegetarian recipe ‘that even meat eaters want to eat". I like meat. But now I want this pasta. And apparently I need to check out this new cookbook, too. Oh, do you travel? As in, travel to upstate New York to bring me leftovers of this deliciousness? That's how the Wolfpack rolls. #WolfpackEats

  12. I love it when you do cookbook reviews, and I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I know next to nothing about this kind of cooking which will make for an intriguing read! In the meantime, I need to try this pasta dish out, along with your recommendation for quinoa pasta!

  13. I love his books. Great photos!

  14. This pasta sounds incredibly legit! Love Yotam Ottolenghi... I've tried a few of his recipes in the past and they are always super crazy flavorful! #wolfpackeats

  15. Accidentally posted this comment under a diff post. I have no idea how I managed that. Anyway, I randomly came across this on Foodgawker and thought, "What in the world? Persian-style pasta?!" So as a Persian, to me this means pasta cooked the way we cook our Persian rice, tahdig (crisped rice at the bottom of the pot--pasta in this case) and all. But essentially you're taking a beloved eggplant appetizer (typically eaten with Persian bread) and pairing it with pasta! Of course it'll be tasty! Great job and lovely photos! :)

  16. I am a iranian bur I have never tried this (actually eggplant in pasta) I have my own recipe :)))))