I have tried enough dishes calling for tri-color pasta to be dubious. I have found the flavors don’t always mix well with other ingredients or I undercook the pasta- it seems to take a bit longer to cook than non-veggie pasta. I don’t know, it just has not been a very positive taste experience. This one, however, is. It is an adaptation of a recipe in my cookbook, Turkish Family Favorites, which is available from Amazon.com (hint, hint). It sounds like a ho-hum recipe, but trust me: follow the directions exactly and be sure to use the yogurt sauce. That makes the dish.
- 1 6 oz. package tri-color veggie rotini
- Salt for cooking pasta and for seasoning meat
- 2 generous soupspoonfuls of tomato paste
- 1 pound ground beef, preferably lean*
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 T. oil
- 1 tsp. (or more or less to taste) hot pepper
- water if needed for meat and for cooking pasta
- 1 cup plain, low-fat or whole yogurt (do NOT use fat-free)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
Mix the salt, yogurt, and garlic together in a small bowl. Set aside to use when serving. This is one of the most delicious combinations ever, although when I first heard of it, I thought it sounded vile. But it is so yummy and elevates this simple dish to hard-core comfort food.
Cook the rotini in a generous amount of salted water until done. It will take about 11 minutes, but test it and be sure. Drain and set aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion until it softens and starts to brown. Stir in the ground beef, break up, and continue cooking until there is no more pink left. Drain the oil from the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, hot pepper (I like Indian chile pepper but cayenne is also fine. Red pepper flakes are also good.) Add salt to taste. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup of water, but this part of the dish will be fairly dry, not soupy like spaghetti sauce.
When rotini is done and has been drained, empty into a serving bowl. Top off with the meat mixture and stir well. Serve and pass the yogurt sauce around so each person can put a dollop of yogurt sauce on their rotini. Excellent. 4-6 servings. Takes all of about 15-20 minutes and you control what’s in there. Beats takeout or packaged macaroni any time.
* There are several possible substitutions here. I think this would work well with soy protein, ground chicken, or ground turkey. I personally prefer the ground beef, but the others would work and would be very tasty.