Ma’acaroni bel-laban - Middle Eastern Yogurt Pasta

     This simple dish is popular in both Lebanon and Syria. It's made from staples that are common in the Middle east as well as in most western pantries. In this instance those staple are pasta and yogurt. Yogurt is typically sweet and reserved for breakfast or granola bowls but in the Middle East it is so much more than that. It's used in dips and sauces, and strained to be more like cheese, and used in pasta. Garlic is a common counterpart. 

     Some versions of ma'acaroni bel-laban include chopped herbs; cilantro, mint, and parsley are all regularly included. This simple version is how it's made over at Hadia's Lebanese Cuisine. It whipped up in a hurry and was delicious, something akin to alfredo but definitely not the same, clearly more middle eastern with the tangy of the yogurt and the pungent garlic puncturing every delicious bite.  

12 oz thin spaghetti noodles
2 c. plain yogurt  (not low fat)
1 head garlic, minced fine (yup, whole thing)
1/4 c. olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Aleppo Pepper or red pepper flakes

Cook the pasta in salted water until tender. 

Heat the the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and cook over medium, not high, heat for 5 minutes. Add the yogurt and and stir well to combine. Turn the heat to low so the yogurt doesn't curdle. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Drain the pasta when it is tender. Top with the yogurt sauce and work it in slightly to work on to the noodles. Top with pepper flakes and serve.


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