Red Whole-Wheat Penne 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Apr 2, 2014

This is chef Marcus Samuelsson's modernized version of the classic Ethiopian dish pasta saltata, a result of the brief Italian occupation of Ethiopia. Harissa, a fiery North African chili paste, can be found at specialty markets; in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, look for the stellar version made by Cava Mezze and sold at Whole Foods and other stores (to find a store, go to

Make Ahead: The cooked potatoes and the sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 1 pound (2 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
  • 1 large shallot lobe, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 ounces dried whole-wheat penne
  • 1/4 cup chopped arugula
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves


Cover the potatoes with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the water is bubbling gently; cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and reserve the cooking water. Cool the potatoes slightly; cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a small skillet over low heat. Add the almonds, shallot and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until the almonds are golden brown and the shallot and garlic are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool a bit.

Scrape the almond mixture into a food processor. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, along with the lemon juice, cheese, harissa and salt; puree until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cooking water; puree until smooth.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the penne and cook according to the package directions, just until al dente. Drain; immediately toss in a large bowl with the potatoes and sauce. Fold in the arugula.

Divide among individual plates. Sprinkle with the basil, and serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Cooking Light Global Kitchen," by David Joachim (Oxmoor House, 2014).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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