20 August 2009


This is my favorite, easy pasta recipe. This is the recipe I make when I don’t feel like cooking, or whenever we have unexpected company and I want something different but easy to feed them--I always have the ingredients on hand.

For these photos I used cappellacci, which are cute little hat-shaped pasta, but you can use any pasta that will hold a thicker sauce: rigatoni, penne, farfalle, tortilloni, spirelli, even tagliatelli. Basically, whatever you have on hand, but probably not spaghetti or cappelini. This sauce needs something to grab on to. It’s good with plain or flavored or whole-wheat pasta.

The sauce is based on plain yogurt, and I try to use a tangy one. I usually use low-fat yogurt, because that’s what I always have on hand. You could use greek or bulgarian yogurt as well. A word to the wise, though: be SURE the yogurt’s plain. When we lived in DC, Dan’s cousin Dick came to town for a business meeting. I naturally assumed that Dick would have dinner in a fancy restaurant with his colleagues, but he said he’d rather take pot luck with us. I didn’t have much in the house, so I made this pasta for him. I (luckily) had one carton of yogurt left in the fridge, and when I opened it I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be cherry or chocolate. Nope, it was white. So I made the dish, and served it proudly. When I took the first bite, I gagged. Really. I actually gagged. The yogurt wasn’t chocolate, it was vanilla. Eewwww. I jumped up and reached for Dick’s plate, explaining red-facedly that it wasn’t supposed to taste like that. But he held on to his plate for dear life (probably afraid of what might replace it!) “No!” Dick said, “I LIKE it”. And he ate it. Every bite. I loved him for that. So when you make this, please double check the yogurt. It should be PLAIN.


1 cup/250 ml plain yogurt

3-4 Tablespoons basil pesto

3-4 Tablespoons red pesto

a generous handful of parmesan, plus more for garnish

1 pound / 500 g pasta


  1. Fill a large pot with plenty of cold water, and bring it to a boil. Add a good handful of salt. When it’s at a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir from time to time while it’s cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, take a pan large enough to hold the pasta easily (I use a wok) and in it put the yogurt and the pestos and the parmesan. Stir to mix and heat gently. You don’t want this to cook, you only want to knock the cold off it. When it’s barely warm, turn the heat off and wait till the pasta is done.
  3. When the pasta is done as you like it, drain it well and dump it all into the sauce. Stir well to mix. Serve sprinkled with more freshly grated parmesan.

Note that because you’re mixing complementary colors (red and green), the color of this will be sort of, well, brown. You can modify the brown-ness by changing the proportions of the two pestos. I sometimes make it redder or greener. In any case, it’s still brown...

Variations--basically you can add whatever you have around that will go with these flavors. Some examples:

  • A handful of chopped dried or semi-dried tomatoes.
  • Chicken
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • You can also use pesto made with rocket instead of basil. It’s a different flavor, but it also goes with the tomatoes.

Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don’t


Patty said...

Sounds good Kate!

eatlivetravelwrite said...

Mmmmm - looks and sounds delicious! Very summery too....

Grace said...

i've never seen cappellacci, but it looks like a really fun shape! oddly enough, weird-shaped pastas taste much better to me than normal shapes. :) great dish all around!

Stephie Butler said...

This sounds kind of food, will definitely try this one out.Thanks Kate.....

Caroline said...

Hi Kate,
Just stopped by your blog for the first time and love it.
Being an avid cook of Italian food it was a delight to see a new and interesting recipe for me to try. Thank you!
Happy Blogging.

Tim said...

I love the sound of this! I'll be sure the read the label closely on my yoghurt :)

eatlivetravelwrite said...

Speaking of pesto: