Just a few days ago on SeriousEats.com, a food reviewer, Blake Royer exclaimed, “I’m in love with Rozanne Gold’s new book Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease, for, well, exactly the reasons in the title.” Naturally that made me happy, but I was even happier with the recipe the reviewer chose to croon about — Tortellini with Yogurt, Mint and Smoked Paprika Oil. The recipe is loosely based on a Turkish dish called manti and I first learned about it from my sister-in-law who lived in Turkey for years and, in addition to speaking the language, has become a devotee of their cuisine. I swooned when I read the description of the authentic recipe given by David Rosengarten in the Dean & DeLuca Cookbook: “This quintessential combination features lamb-stuffed pillows of fresh pasta that are drizzled with two sauces — a garlicky one made from yogurt, and a spicy one made with butter, paprika, and hot pepper. The whole is topped with fresh mint, and is unbelievably delicious. This type of Turkish ravioli, which originated in Mongolia, was eaten at the Ottoman court and has been popular throughout Anatolia ever since.” I think it was the creamy garlic-laced yogurt and the hot butter sauce on top that had me hooked. Now that I think of it, how delicious it would be atop a mound of creamy polenta! A new hybrid of Turkish and Italian? Turkaly?
My radically simple version relies on top-notch, store-bought (fresh) meat tortellini and heady smoked paprika. According to Royer, “a quick whisk of olive oil with a smashed garlic clove and smoked paprika is the deeply flavored foil to thick Greek yogurt whisked with more olive oil; torn mint leaves add an herby bite. Light and simple, it reminded me why I read cookbooks: to be inspired.” Another bonus? It can be prepared in 10 minutes.
A review on Amazon uncovered another taker. C. Merced (from Stamford, CT and sometimes Puerto Rico) said “I made the Tortellini with Yogurt, Mint & Smoked Paprika Oil” and it was extremely delicious. I mean it was DELICIOUS!”
I recently had a very good version at a small restaurant on 7th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn called Istanbul, where the dumplings were tiny and tender — the size of fingernails. Afiyet olsun to all. (Bon appetit in Turkish)
Tortellini with Yogurt, Mint & Smoked Paprika Oil
Sometimes I serve this with a nontraditional dusting of grated pecorino, which lends a desirable aroma. Use fresh pasta if available.
1 pound fresh cheese or meat tortellini (raviolini can also be used)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 cup plain thick Greek yogurt, room temperature
1/3 cup torn mint leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook 8 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, the smoked paprika, garlic, and a large pinch of salt. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 2 more tablespoons oil, and salt to taste. Drain the pasta well; shake dry. Toss the pasta with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and add salt and a generous amount of pepper. Divide among 4 bowls. Top with the yogurt and mint, and drizzle with the smoked paprika oil. Serves 4