Probably the main foreign influence on Ethiopian cuisine is Italian. Pasta saltata is a common dish, cooked with rich butter, olive oil, pasta, berbere spice blend, and fiery chiles. This healthful version with whole wheat pasta uses almonds to create a pestolike sauce, and the red color comes from the hot harissa condiment. And just like the traditional Genovese version of the dish, this pasta is served with potatoes.
Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 1/2 cups liquid. Cool potatoes slightly, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add almonds, shallots, and garlic to pan; cook 8 minutes or until the almonds are golden, stirring often. Remove from heat; cool.
Place almond mixture in a food processor; add remaining 3 tablespoons oil, juice, cheese, harissa, and salt; process 1 minute or until well blended and almost smooth. With the processor on, slowly pour 1 1/2 cups reserved cooking liquid through food chute; process 1 minute or until smooth.
Combine pasta, potatoes, and almond mixture in a large bowl, tossing gently. Fold in arugula; sprinkle with basil.
This was very good. The only weak spot was my fault; I made my own harissa, and I think I should've used some hotter peppers because it's not very spicy. Some heat was exactly what this dish was missing! Otherwise, I really liked it. I'll make it again, but with better harissa!