Monday, April 5, 2010

Zigni Style Spaghetti

The Italians tried their damnedest to colonize Ethiopia and Eritrea in the 1930s. In the end, the Ethiopians repelled the Italians, making it the only African country to escape colonial rule. But one place where the Italians left a lasting legacy was in the food. Zigni--widely regarded as the national dish of Eritrea--is basically pasta (or injera) and marinara seasoned with the local spices.

This is much less a production than many other Ethiopian recipes. Once you have berbere on hand, it is very easy to prepare this dish. In addition to tempeh, other suitable meat alternatives include TVP or fake ground beef crumbles.

Also, instead of spaghetti, this can also be served over cubed, roasted potatoes and/or over injeera.

Prep time: 1 cocktail (30 minutes)

4 TBSP olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 TBSP + 1 tsp berbere (click here for recipe)
1 ½ tsp sea salt
Two dozen or more good grinds of black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
Juice of 1 medium lemon
6-8 ounces dry spaghetti (I prefer whole wheat)
8 ounce package tempeh, crumbled
Fresh-grated, high quality Parmesan cheese

Heat a pot or Dutch oven with 2 TBSP oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until onion begins to turn transparent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

Then add tomatoes, berbere, salt, pepper, cayenne, and lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently until sauce reaches the consistency of a marinara sauce—about 15 minutes (but can vary significantly, depending on the moisture content of the tomatoes).

Once you get the sauce simmering, cook the spaghetti. And as you cook the spaghetti and simmer the sauce, you can also sauté the tempeh. Start by heating the remaining two TBSP oil in a frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the crumbled tempeh and stir frequently until it turns a nice golden brown. Remove tempeh from heat and set aside.

When the sauce is ready, stir in the tempeh and simmer another minute or two. Remove from heat and serve the sauce over the pasta (or potatoes). Top with parmesan.

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