One of Algeria’s national holidays is called Mowloud or Mawlid, which is the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family). It is commemorated in the Islamic month of Rabi ul-Awwal. The Mawlid is not celebrated by all Muslims but you can find Muslims celebrating it all over the world. In parts where it is celebrated, people commonly sing songs or poetry about the life and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and tell stories of his life. Here in Algiers, most people have family over for dinner, light firecrackers, and eat an Algerian dish called “Rishta”. Rishta, from what we understand, is a traditional dish made with long, fine spaghetti, meat and vegetables. Urbndervish and I were home for the holiday (which was on Friday; a weekend day) and I wanted to make a special dish that included pasta because all of this pasta talk was making me crave it. Thanks to a dear friend on the West Coast who introduced us to a “cheezy” macaroni dish a few years ago, I tried to reinvent it with a little Algerian flair.
2 large tomatoes
½ of a medium-sized red onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
4 tbsp. nutritional yeast (a great source of Vitamin B12)
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ lb. of cooked pasta (I used macaroni)
1 cup of sliced green olives
2 cups of cooked brown lentils (optional)
- Sauté onion, tomatoes, and garlic
- Add salt and pepper
- Simmer on low flame until the tomatoes are mostly cooked down to sauce
- Add the nutritional yeast and olive oil
- Simmer sauce until creamy and delightful (hence the name of the recipe)
- Fold in the pasta, olives, and lentils (optional)
- Stir until coated with the sauce. Season to taste and enjoy!
Note: I was never a fan of olives but after a month of living in Algeria, I’ve found a love for them (especially the green ones!). If you’re generally not a fan, start with a little bit at a time.