We have had some wonderful food while in Kalkan at the south coast of Turkey, featuring region’s sun kissed fresh produce; tomatoes have been at their peak, and the peppers tasted out of this world – no need to mention the region’s divine olive oil; I could dip my bread to it all day!
We had this simple yet very delicious pasta at Mahal’s café, and I recreated at home in England; it is packed with goodness and so easy too, ready within 30 minutes. The sweetness of tomatoes and peppers work so well with the chili pepper and tangy lemon juice- a handful of capers also work really well in this sauce. Even though it wasn’t Kalkan’s lovingly grown tomatoes, still tasted wonderful, with children asking for another serving; sunshine on a plate.
For the ultimate Turkish experience, you can serve the pasta with Ayran, refreshing Turkish drink with yoghurt or Cacik dip with cucumber and yoghurt by the side. The tangy and hard Turkish kasar cheese goes very well, grated over the pasta; if you can’t get kasar, you can replace it with a tangy cheddar or Pecorino Romano.
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes
500gr pasta (spaghetti or penne works well) – or enough for 4 –
Red, orange, yellow (or green) pointy or bell peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 chili peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped – please keep all the wonderful juice!-
Juice of ½ lemon
5ml/1 tsp. brown sugar
60ml/3 tbsp. olive oil
10ml/2 tsp. oregano
5ml/1 tsp. red pepper flakes – optional-
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated hard and tangy Turkish kasar (tangy cheddar) or Pecorino Romano to serve
Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan and stir in the peppers, chili pepper and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and combine well. Stir in the lemon juice, brown sugar and red pepper flakes, if using. Season with salt and ground black pepper, mix well. Leave to cook on a moderate heat for about 8 minutes. Once cooked, stir in the oregano to the sauce and check the seasoning.
Boil the water for the pasta in a separate heavy pan, while the sauce is cooking. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of lightly salted boiling water until a minute before it is al dente (please refer to the cooking time on the pasta’s packaging). Drain the water and set aside the pasta in the colander.
Stir in the pasta to the pan where the sauce is cooked; make sure to coat all the pasta with the sauce (if you like, you can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the pasta).
Serve hot with grated tangy kasar (cheddar) or pecorino cheese over the pasta. Steamed vegetables or cacik dip complement the pasta well; ayran drink would be a refreshing accompaniment to the pasta too.