Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ottolenghi love...

I own a LOT of cookbooks, and love to use them as a source of inspiration. When I first buy a book I like to go through them, marking out recipes to try with post-its. The number of marked pages in the book usually gives a pretty fair indication of how much use it will get. The two Ottolenghi books we have at home are stuffed full of them, they are packed with recipes for the sort of food I love.

Ottolenghi is a cafe - actually now a group of cafes - in London that produce deliciously creative food. I have never been there, but have had their first cookbook, Ottolenghi:The Cookbook, for a while now and recently gave Sarah their second book Plenty for her birthday.
The owners grew up in Jerusalem, which influences a lot of their cooking, which is dominated by lots of vegetables, grains and fresh herbs. Plenty is actually all vegetarian recipes, not that you miss the lack of meat. Ottolenghi food is wholesome and honest, big on flavour and texture and begging to be served up on generous platters and passed around the table. The finished products look delicious in that rustic and simple way, that belies the amount of prep involved and long ingredient lists, but so far I have found the extra admin (as Miriam would say) has been worthwhile.

Here are some of the recipes I have tried so far, I find it near impossible to stick prescriptively to a recipe so most of these are my adaptations. Sometimes the ingredients specified aren't readily available in NZ, so I just substitute with what I have to hand, and the results are delicious none-the-less.
Sweet winter slaw - Shredded savoy and red cabbage, mango, papaya, fresh mint, coriander, red pepper, fresh chilli, caramelised macadamia nuts and a lime/lemongrass dressing. This salad was beautiful and one I know I will make again and again. We ate it with warm roast chicken. The leftovers made a delicious lunch the next day with the shredded chicken tossed through it along with some nutty brown rice and crunchy mung bean sprouts. You can find the recipe here. This is the Ottolenghi picture, not ours...

Quinoa salad with dried Iranian Lime - I changed this quite bit due to us lacking some of the ingredients. Roasted kumara, pearl barley (instead of wild rice), red and white quinoa, lime zest (instead of the dried lime), lemon juice, chopped garlic, oregano and sage fried in olive oil til crispy, crumbled feta, chopped spring onion, fresh mint, peas (these were my addition to make it a 'balanced meal', but they worked nicely with the citrusy flavours and salty feta). We ate it with fish, lovely.

Roasted Butternut Squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses - roasted butternut, toasted pumpkin, sunflower, nigella and black sesame seeds, toasted almonds, fresh basil leaves. I added some puy lentils. The burnt aubergine was like baba ghanoush, but with a sharper flavour from the pomegranate molasses, which for all that it is fashionable I am not that keen on, I find it tastes a bit like cough syrup. We ate it with slow roasted lamb.

Pear Crostini - sliced sourdough spread with a rough paste of walnuts, garlic and olive oil and toasted in a hot oven. Topped with slices of caramelised fresh pear, soft french goats cheese and a little rocket salad dressed with lemon. This was such a delicious lunch, I can't wait to make it again.

Smoky polenta fries with tomato chilli sauce - I made these to have before Sarah's birthday dinner. They don't feature in either of the books, but on the Guardian website, where Yotam Ottolenghi contributes a regular feature on contemporary vegetarian food. You can find the recipe here. Do make them! As if polenta chips weren't tasty enough already, this version has smoked cheese in them. They are very good.


  1. Yum! Now why would anyone want to go all the way to London and visit Ottolenghi when this gets served up night after night?

    Yes, agree there's lots of admin involved but definitely worth it.

    Wish I was there for the polenta fries. They look every bit as good as the ones from Coco's and sound even better as Coco's polenta fries don't contain smoked cheese!

  2. Yum! Have just received Plenty from a friend in London who goes to one of the cafes, I think she feels sorry for me as I obviously cant! Agree on the admin front, the flavours do make it worthwhile, especially when you can have leftovers for lunch as I did today:) Lovely blog btw, keep it up (even if it does mean I am reading it & getting slightly less work done than I should...!)

  3. Yum!! I love good, inspiring vegetarian recipes...I think this, plus the Cuisine article, could be the push I need to buy this book :)


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