Ottolenghi *Swoon*

Like many people who do a hefty amount of cooking, I don’t often follow recipes in books (which is not to say I don’t have a massive collection!). Instead, I prefer to use them for inspiration, to check techniques or sometimes just to look at the pretty pictures, quite frankly. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule and Ottolenghi is most definitely one of them. I adored the ‘New Vegetarian‘ series, I now adore the book and I hope that soon I shall adore the restaurant/deli too.

There is a bold simplicity to these recipes, which are based around a set of ‘star ingredients’, (listed in the front of the book) – essential flavours in the Ottolenghi repertoire, for example, yoghurt, tahini, sumac and pomegranate molasses. These ingredients I am already in love with, particularly since the release of books such as Moro East and Persia in Peckham.

This roast pumpkin with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses is a current favourite. Soft, sweet squash scattered with crunchy toasted seeds and nuts, accompanied by an aubergine sauce which is pure genius. I know I will continue making this sauce for many years to come. The aubergine is charred until wrinkly and often bursting – the smoky flesh then scraped and combined with natural yoghurt, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and that sticky, fragrant molasses. Great sweet and sour flavours and contrasting textures.

The squash didn’t make it onto a plate, I just plonked the sauce in the middle and we ate the whole lot, from the oven dish, on the sofa. The original sauce recipe calls for olive oil but I left it out (Christmas calorie guilt) and it still tastes amazing. In fact, I may even prefer it.

I picked up two more aubergines on the way home yesterday, to make a double batch this afternoon. I will be munching through it while thumbing through the book, trying to decide which of the ten or so earmarked recipes will be next on my hitlist. This is a true pleasure in itself, for the book is a beautiful thing. Glorious pictures of the Ottolenghi establishment/s, platters towered high with lush, vibrant salads, perfectly cooked meats and decadent cakes and pastries.

Glossy pages, beautiful photography and chef magic aside however, I reckon Ottolenghi is the perfect book for the home cook. The recipes are easy to make yet impressive and (at the risk of sounding a bit Jamie O), sexy. There is a sense of generosity, a celebration of ingredients, the flavour of each being clearly discernable – no fussing. The Ottolenghi passion has jumped right from the chefs to the book to the plate to my belly and – I think I may be in love.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine and Pomegranate Molasses (from Ottolenghi – The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi).
(I bought a big bottle of pomegranate molasses in my local Sainsbury’s for £2.50 ish. It is also available in delis and middle Eastern food shops).

1 large butternut squash (I used a small pumpkin)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (I didn’t have any)
1 tablespoon black (or white) sesame seeds
1 teaspoon nigella (black onion) seeds
10g sliced almonds
10g basil leaves (I didn’t have any)
Sea salt and black pepper

For the sauce
1 medium aubergine
150g Greek yoghurt, room temp
2 tablespoons olive oil (I left this out)
1.5 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon roughly choppped flatleaf parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed

– Preheat oven to 220C/Gas 7/425F. Cut the squash into wedges, 2-3cm thick. Remove the seeds and arrange in a roasting tray, skin side down. Brush with half the oil and season well. Cook for 25-30 minutes until soft and slightly brown.

– Reduce the oven to 180C/Gas4/350F. Spread the almonds and seeds on a roasting tray and toast for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool.

– For the sauce, either put the aubergine directly onto a gas hob flame, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the skin is dried and cracked and the aubergine smells smoky. You can also do this by putting the aubergine under a hot grill. The aubergine often bursts I find, but this is fine. Just be careful not to lose that flesh! It needs to be very soft inside.

– Scoop the flesh from the aubergine and discard the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for ten minutes, then chop roughly and combine with the yoghurt, oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and season.

– Arrange the squash on a plate, scatter over the seeds and nuts and serve the dressing alongside. Scatter over the basil and serve.

Category: Books, Gluten-free, Healthy, Lunchbox, Side Dishes, Vegetables 36 comments »

36 Responses to “Ottolenghi *Swoon*”

  1. Joel Brazil

    I’m a big fan of Ottolenghi, in fact it’s my favourite lunch spot, though I can no longer afford it. And my wife tells me we don’t need another cookbook. So I think I’m going to rely on your blog to tell me what’s awesome and then share the recipe.

    so thank you for sharing.

  2. Helen

    Hey Joel, yes I heard it is very expensive, which is why I haven’t been yet! re: the cookbook – what I do is just buy it anyway, sneak it onto the shelf and pretend it has always been there ;)

  3. jennifer | themakelounge

    I don’t actually love the restaurant – the whole communal seating thing grates on me a bit – but am excited to try out this recipe! Look forward to reading more of your blog…

  4. Sophie

    I love this book too. Doesn’t it just make you want to invite 20 people round so that you can make giant platters like in their divine photographs?

    Haven’t tried the aubergine sauce so it’s good to hear that it works well without the olive oil (I’ve halved the amount of olive oil in a lot of their salad recipes and they still taste great).

    Not sure why (probably the photos again!) but this is also the only book in years that has actually got me baking. Lots.

    Sophies last blog post..A Happy and Healthy 2009

  5. Wendy

    I adore this book and this recipe too. Have you the chargrilled broccoli? So simple but so good!

    Wendys last blog post..Happy New Year to You All!

  6. Helen

    jennifer – Yes I have heard about that. It would annoy me if people were too close, we have enough of that in London already don’t we?! Elbows touching would not be acceptable!
    Sophie – Oh yes! It does make me want to go out and buy big platters to arrange it all on too! You must try the aubergine sauce, it’s great without the oil so no worries there. I will try that sour cherry and walnut loaf you recommended too, thanks :)

  7. Helen

    Wendy – No I haven’t tried the brocolli yet but I will! It’s like my favourite pasta dish, but without the pasta – just right for the new year!!

  8. Kevin

    This sounds really good. I am always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy the bottle of pomegranate molasses that I have in my fridge.

    Kevins last blog post..Scrambled Eggs with Sundried Tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano

  9. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    Looks delicious, Helen! I am like you, usually use cookbooks for inspiration, but as you say there are some exceptions! This is a great one!

  10. Ginger

    Hmm, I’ve hard a lot about this book but have only flicked through it once. It didn’t do much for me at the time but you’ve certainly piqued my interest. I really don’t need another book though, my shelves are groaning!

    Brilliant pictures.

    Gingers last blog post..Roast Beef

  11. Gourmet Chick

    What a great post. I am obsessed with the cafe and the cookbook. If you are worried about communal tables the Islington branch has individual tables as well. As for the book it is beautifully presented and even better the recipes really work. I recommend the recipe for fresh berry tartlets – it is delicious and very impressive.

    Gourmet Chicks last blog post..Saba (Gourmet Chick in Ireland)

  12. David Hall

    Happy New Year Helen!

    Hope 2009 is a top one for you
    Cheers
    Dave x

    David Halls last blog post..Reasons to Resolve

  13. myfrenchkitchen

    Looks SO delicious Helen! Have a wonderful 2009!
    ronell

    myfrenchkitchens last blog post..Boeuf bourguignon

  14. Lizzie

    Cor – that looks a bit good. I’m not a fan of butternut squash so i think I’ll try it with pumpkin too. Aubergine, however, is my favourite vegetable. Great pictures!

    Lizzies last blog post..Thai-Style Beef Salad

  15. Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    Yum! I was looking forward to seeing this post. I also love reading the New Vegetarian series and tried one of his recipes last year. Great Supper Club dish…

    Helen Yuet Ling Pangs last blog post..Essentials for Quick & Simple Recipes

  16. Christie @ fig&cherry

    Perfectly cooked pumpkin Helen! I love the crispy burnt bits on the edges, that adds so much flavour.

    Also loving the exploding aubergine shot – very porny :P

    Christie @ fig&cherrys last blog post..Have you ever heard of a pillow menu?

  17. Michelle

    I am going to try that recipe, it looks so good. It is a great book – the pistachio and rose water meringues are a current favourite.

    Michelles last blog post..Green (cake) couriers for London.

  18. Trig

    One of my mum’s favourite places to eat. Yotam has a gift for clean flavours and, of course, he’s a blogger like us. Happy New Year, Helen.

  19. Anne @ Pink Galoshes

    What a great recipe for my most favorite of all foods. Thanks!

    Anne @ Pink Galoshess last blog post..Knob Creek

  20. kathryn

    Oh my, oh my Helen, that does all look quite glorious. I’m still fairly new to Ottolenghi, but I’m impressed by what I see. A way of cooking based around a handful of superb ingredients sounds good to me. An interesting way of organising food. And yoghurt, tahini, sumac and pomegranate molasses are a wonderful set – providing texture, flavour, complexity.

  21. Bron

    Helen that looks lovely. Used to be confused by aubergines – never sure how to approach them for years, they seemed so shiny and complete. And then one day I roasted one till it split and made baba ganoush – voila! Now they are definitely a big favourite.

    Happy feasting in 2009

    Bron

    Brons last blog post..Beef & Mushroom Cobbler

  22. Molly Chester

    Hi Helen!

    I am a private chef in Santa Monica, CA, and I just came across your blog. I actually got this cookbook for my recent wedding, but I was so busy I hadn’t picked it up yet. Now I will! This recipe looks great! I have an organic, whole foods based food blog as well. Thought I would share: http://organicspark.blogspot.com

    Happy New Year, and thank you for sharing! I’ll be back!

    Molly

    Molly Chesters last blog post..Delicious Chicken Curry

  23. aforkfulofspaghetti

    You will LOVE the cafe/deli! I went in there (the one in Belgravia) just before Christmas, and could barely tear myself away…

    A lovely recipe with which to kick off the New Year!

    aforkfulofspaghettis last blog post..another year over… and here’s to 2009!

  24. Nate

    Pomegranate molasses seems to be the new balsamic vinegar these days.

    The burnt eggplant sauce sounds amazing.

    Nates last blog post..Getting Happy at Hog Island Oyster Co (San Francisco)

  25. Fiona Beckett

    One of my all -time favourite books too but I hadn’t tried this recipe. Definitely will now after your tantalising photos.. And I love Persia in Peckham which is also a terrific read.

    Fiona Becketts last blog post..Marmite and cucumber sandwiches

  26. Serena

    Thank you thank you thank you for introducing me to the New Vegetarian! Yum yum and YUM! x

  27. Holler

    Mmmmm, lovely!

    Happy New Year Helen :)

  28. Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar

    I’ve been eyeing this recipe in the cookbook since I bought it, but felt a bit chicken about doing the burnt aubergine. But as you haven’t reported having to call out the Fire Brigade I feel a bit braver about it :P

    Good to know that this is as luscious as it looks in the book!!

  29. manju

    Happy New Year, Helen! Came by to see what lovely vegetable dishes you were spotlighting after the holiday gorge we’ve been on. This looks festive and healthy and very do-able. Will try it after the weekend. : )

    manjus last blog post..5-A-Day: Kale Crisps

  30. Jeanne

    I have only made a couple of his recipes and don’t (yet) own the book but I’m 100% smitten… Have bookmarked this to try as it looks fabulous!

    Jeannes last blog post..Cranberry, pistachio & choc chip cookies

  31. Michelle

    This looks like my type of dish. Jeanne from Cooksister (above) has made his Haloumi salad which also looks drool-worthy.

    Michelles last blog post..Pan-Fried Seabass with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce and Spring Vegetables

  32. bert

    Eating healthy and deliciously need not be mutually exclusive. Vegetables have a lot of inert flavor in them that you can let out if you cook them right. That said, there are lots of ways to cook veggies deliciously! Try the vegetable recipes at tanya’s site, I liked them!

  33. deeba

    I am completely enamoured by the Ottolenghi cookbook too, and can’t seem to get enough of it. Loved your post!!

  34. phil

    I totally agree with everything you say about ottolenghi! That book is the most exciting thing that’s happened in my kitchen for YEARS!

  35. Shilpa

    Wow! Never thought of adding pomegranate molasses to aubergine….sounds brilliant…will give it a try soon….

  36. Deena kakaya

    Swooning indeed! I’m a vegetarian and it’s nice to see so many people enjoy Yotam’s recipes simply as tasty food rather than vegetarian food in a separate category for vegetarian folk. X


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