Conchiglie or Orecchiette with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli

A spicy pasta dish hit the table this week, one that certainly packs a chilli hit, but one that also includes yoghurt and feta, and the cooling peas to temper that punch. It is quite a glorious dish, silky and creamy with the texture of toasted pine nuts. I am making it in Winter, but I highly recommend it for Spring. It can be made any time of year, of course, but peas fresh from the vine lift the dish to a different level. Bookmark it now for your spring time.

The recipe is one of Ottolenghi’s from his Guardian column and from his book, Jerusalem. We are cooking our way through Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here, and from Jerusalem here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Conchiglie or Orecchiette with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli”

Tahini Biscuits

Tahini is an oily paste made from crushed sesame seeds that is a pillar of any hummus recipe. It is also gorgeous with yoghurt, with green herbs, or with miso as a dressing on vegetables or drizzled on ice-cream. There is a sauce with garlic and lemon that rivals mayonnaise. Mix it with pomegranate or quince molasses and you have a dessert worth dying for.  In the Middle East, tahini is viewed in much the same way as Italians view olive oil. It sometimes referred to as white gold – like Italians and olive oil, it is woven into the fabric of the culture and cuisine. It has been made across the Mediterranean, Middle East and North African countries for centuries.

Plain tahini is made with hulled, roasted sesame kernels. Whole tahini is darker in colour, and is made without removing the hull. It is richer but can also be a bit bitter or gritty. The best sesame seeds for tahini are said to be the Ethiopian humera variety, thanks to their richness of flavour. Try to purchase your tahini from Middle Eastern shops – they have some of the best brands.

These cookies are like a hybrid between a short biscuit and halwa, with the typical melting texture of the former and the nutty, unctuousness flavour of the latter. For us who grew up spreading halwa over white bread to gulp it down for breakfast, they are a real throwback to childhood.

With all of the sweet and savoury uses of tahini, perhaps one of the most well known (apart from hummus) is to make cookies, or as we call them in Australia, biscuits. This recipe, one of Ottolenghi’s from his book Jerusalem, is very short (in terms of dough mixtures).

Because of that, the biscuits are divine with a cuppa. They are absolutely gorgeous in flavour, but like all really short biscuits, a cuppa complements them perfectly.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Jerusalem. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include ANZAC Biscuits and Oatmeal Crackers.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Jerusalem are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Tahini Biscuits”

Burnt Aubergine and Mograbieh Soup

Mograbieh is a gorgeous large couscous, one of several varieties available around the Mediterranean and Middle East that includes maftoul, fregola, giant couscous, pearl couscous and Israeli couscous. They are generally widely available – some in supermarkets but the best in Middle Eastern groceries. Although there are differences, they can be interchanged in many recipes.

This recipe is a delightful and unusual soup – who has heard of eggplant soup before? Today we have one for you. It is Israeli in origin, and features in Tamimi and Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem. The texture is from the mograbieh and fried eggplant, and the smooth soup base is char-roasted eggplant and tomatoes.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Mograbieh and Artichoke Pilaf, Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans, and Couscous Lunches.

Browse our Eggplant recipes. Mograbieh dishes, and our Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Burnt Aubergine and Mograbieh Soup”

Chermoula Aubergine with Bulgar and Yoghurt

Baked eggplant is gorgeous, transforming the vegetable into something quite different to our usual choices in cooking eggplants. It was Japanese cuisine that had me first baking it – I wanted to reproduce the flavours of my favourite Japanese dish of the moment, one with miso, sesame and mirin. And so this recipe was born, in the days before internet and food cookbook fashions. It has always been a family favourite.

Of course, it is more common to bake it these days, in all sorts of ways – stuffed, sliced, coated in breadcrumbs. Even Ottolenghi finds a way to bring his touch to it – by smothering it in chermoula and serving the gorgeous baked dish with burghul and yoghurt. Yum. It is a recipe from Jerusalem, and it is one that I have marked Magnificent. Eggplant and chermoula is a common combination from Morocco to the Middle East – Paula Wolfert also has a cracker recipe for eggplant slices that have been baked and then smothered with chermoula. It is in her book The Food of Morocco.

In this recipe, halved eggplant is coated in the chermoula – a mix of spices, lemon and garlic – then baked before being served with a tangy burgul (bulgar) mix of herbs, sultanas, olives and almonds, and a spoonful of yoghurt.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

“Served separately, both the aubergine and the bulgar salad from this dish are delicious with the accompanying Greek yoghurt, but all three together are a match made in food heaven. Chermoula is a potent North African spice paste that is ideal for smearing on your favourite vegetables for roasting.”

Similar recipes include Japanese Baked Eggplant with Miso and Sesame, Eggplant Baked with Harissa and Chickpeas, and Baked Garlicky Eggplant with Feta.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Chermoula Aubergine with Bulgar and Yoghurt”

Dates and Baby Spinach Salad With Almonds and Sumac | One Delicious Salad!

What defines a salad? There are salads of raw ingredients and salads of cooked ingredients, cold salads and warm salads, salads of vegetables and salads with fruit, and salads with dried fruits. There are salads without fruit and without vegetables. There are dressings with oil and vinegar, or miso, pomegranate molasses or tahini. There are salads without dressings. Salads can be tossed, mixed, layered and composed. How to define a salad!

The word salad comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as salad or sallet in the 14th century. Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times.

But as soon as we try to create some rules that categorically define a salad, we find exceptions. Despite the confusion, we can all recognise a salad when we see one. There is no confusing it with soup, or pudding, or a pasta dish.

Salads are also evident in most cuisines, even India has quite a few salads even though they are not well represented in restaurants or cookbooks. Today we travel to Israel via Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem. The salad is composed of marinated dates, crispy flatbread, toasted nuts, and baby spinach. It does sour via lemon juice, vinegar and sumac, hot with chilli, pungent with onion and sweet with the dates.

Sumac, a tart, deep-red spice, is a key ingredient for this recipe – buy yours from a Middle Eastern shop, it is quite different to brands available via the local supermarket. The pita and almonds in the recipe are cooked for a few minutes on the stove to crisp up, but that is the only heat required. The rest is easy.

It is Ottolenghi Cook the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Spinach Stem Salad with Sultanas and Pinenuts, Glass Noodles with Spinach, and Orzo Pasta with Wilted Spinach.

Browse all of our Spinach Salads and all of our Israeli dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Jerusalem are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through his book Plenty More. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Dates and Baby Spinach Salad With Almonds and Sumac | One Delicious Salad!”

Na’ama’s Fattoush

Fattoush, as its simplest, is another tomato and bread salad – a common combination around the globe. And as tomato and bread is a very very good basis for a salad; it is no wonder that it is popular.

But mention Fattoush to anyone from the Middle East to Israel, and  you are likely to find yourself in a discussion (argument?) about the composition of the salad.  Is sumac essential? Should other spices be included? Is garlic necessary? Is the bread to be toasted? Or fried? What is the dressing made of? What herbs are included? How big should the pita pieces be?

It is one of THOSE salads, loved and protected by all who eat it regularly. It is a type of chopped salad with tomatoes and includes pita. A salad that is best when all ingredients are the freshest and best quality available.

Arab salad, chopped salad, Israeli salad – whatever you choose to call it. Wherever you go in the city, at any time of the day, a Jerusalemite is most likely to have a plate of freshly chopped vegetables – tomato, cucumber and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice – served next to whatever else they are having. Friends visiting us in London always complain of feeling they ate ‘unhealthily’ because there wasn’t a fresh salad served with every meal.

Ottolenghi and Tamimi, in their book Jerusalem, have a recipe that comes from Sammi’s mother. Sami can’t recall anyone else in the neighbourhood making it. this way She called it fattoush, as it includes chopped vegetables and bread. She soaks the untoasted or fried bread in a kind of home-made buttermilk, which makes it terribly comforting. It is a gorgeous salad and the home made buttermilk dressing is wonderful. It does make it quite different to other versions of Fattoush.

Try to get small cucumbers for this as for any other fresh salad. If you need to use the larger, long cucumbers, perhaps remove the seeds before using, if you wish.

Summer purslane, a tangy succulent with fleshy leaves and something of the lamb’s lettuce about it, is commonly found in fattoush in its homelands, and is well worth adding for its lovely lemony flavour. I have included it as we have it growing.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad with Pomegranate

In this memorable salad from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem, roasted Cauliflower, Celery and Hazelnuts are combined with Pomegranate, fresh Parsley, and warming spices. A sweet-tart vinaigrette finishes it off.

When we roast cauliflower, we make a whole lot, often 2 – 3 trays, and it is used for Cauliflower Soup, Crispy Cauliflower with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing, and this salad. Roasted cauliflower is one of the best ways to use this gorgeous winter vegetable.

Similar recipes include Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dressing, Burghul and Cauliflower Salad with Hazelnuts, Cauliflower Roasted in Olive Oil, Indian Style Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Cauliflower, Grape and Cheddar Salad, and Slow Cooked Cauliflower with Spices and Lime.

Browse all of our Cauliflower recipes, all of our Ottolenghi dishes and all of our Salads. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Crispy Cauliflower with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

This Cauliflower dish is a take on a classic Israeli and Lebanese recipe in Ottolenghi and Tammi’s book Jerusalam. I have twisted it up just a little to suit us and our friends, but I have to tell you that this is a favourite dish in our circle. I love it partly because it is very quick to make if you roast the cauliflower. Ottolenghi deep fries it (and that is delicious) but often time is a real factor in this household. So the cauliflower is roasted when we need awesome dishes in quick-sticks time. We can get on with other things while the roasting happens. I have to say, though, that deep frying gives the cauli beautiful crispy exteriors and cooks the interior just enough to be amazing.

Tahini features in creative ways in Israel, in both simple eateries and upmarket restaurants. For these types of dishes, grab good tahini from your Middle Eastern grocers – you won’t go back to the supermarket shelves, and they have a smoothness not available in the Greek brands. Choose a light-coloured tahini made from hulled sesame seeds.

The tahini sauce, thick and wonderfully rich, is the focal point of this dish. I use about 3/4 of Ottolenghi’s sauce with the cauliflower, and the rest is put to use as dips and salad dressings. This dish fits perfectly in any mezze selection, makes a great substantial meal when served with fresh tomato salad and a warm pitta, or is an excellent side for many meals.

Similar dishes include Cauliflower Shawarma, Indian Style Roasted CauliflowerCrispy Cauliflower with Capers, Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Hazelnuts and PomegranateRoasted Cauliflower and White Bean Puree,  and Cauliflower Slow Cooked with Lemon and Spices.

Also try Miso Sesame Dressing, Green Tahini Sauce, White Beans with Tahini, and Tahina Tarator.

Browse all of our Cauliflower recipes, and dishes where tahini features. Our dips and sauces are here. Explore our Israeli dishes, all of our wonderful Salads, and check out or Early Spring collection of recipes.

Continue reading “Crispy Cauliflower with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce”

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Figs

The fig season seems so brief in Adelaide, but that might be because they are so hard to find in green groceries. It seems that as soon as they appear in the shops, the season is over.

This year I did manage to find some of the green variety of figs that ripen earlier, and then some outrageously expensive black figs. Really, I need to make friends with someone with a fig tree.

One of Ottolenghi’s dishes in Jerusalem takes advantage of the beautiful taste and texture of figs to pair them with sweet potatoes, chillies and spring onions. This is so good. I mean SO GOOD. You do need to have figs that are sweet, moist and very ripe. You can smell the sweetness.

By the way, if you have access to figs, don’t forget to dry a few dozen, for use over winter.

Are you looking for Fig recipes? Try Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey, Baked Figs with Thyme, Figs with Rosewater and Almonds, Fig Salad with Hazelnuts and Mesclun, and Fig and Pecorino Salad.

Or perhaps you are looking for Sweet Potato dishes. Read about Sweet Potatoes here. And then try Caramelised Sweet Potatoes, Potato and Sweet Potato Spicy Curry, Sweet Potato Wedges with Creme Fraiche Dressing.

Or take some time and browse all of the Fig dishes and the Sweet Potato dishes. We have a few Israeli dishes. Take a look at the Ottolenghi dishes we have tried. Or take some time and browse our Mid Autumn recipes.

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Warm Salad of Charred Okra with Tomato, Garlic and Preserved Lemon

I love this recipe – it is so versatile, and the sort of recipe you can pre-prepare the ingredients, charring the okra and tossing it with the other ingredients at the last moment. The preserved lemon and fresh lemon juice contrast so wonderfully with the charred but still crunchy okra. This dish is GOOD.

The okra can also be charred on the BBQ (grill), tossing them on the hot plate as you sip wine and talk to friends. Then throw them into a pan and toss them with the other ingredients and place on the table for your guests to munch on (try with some flat bread) while you get on with BBQing the rest of the meal. I use a kadhai (Indian wok, flatter than a Chinese one) to make this dish, it is perfect for it.

It is an Ottolenghi recipe, of course, born of the Israeli and Palestinian roots of Sammy and Yotham. Okra features well in these cuisines, from the sun dried okra hanging from strings, to being served in dishes heavy with tamarind syrup. What a divine thought!

For this dish, use short, young, fresh, crisp okra only.

Are you looking for other Okra dishes? Read more about Okra here. Then try Okra with Apricots and Lemon,  Slightly Charred Okra with Chilli, Garlic and ThymeCharred Okra with Spiced Tomato Barley, Crispy Okra (Kurkuri Bhindi), Stir Fried Okra with Sesame Seed, Okra Stuffed with Onions, Goan Fried Okra, and Baked Okra in Dukkah.

Perhaps you are looking for Salads? Try Tomato Salad with Green Olives, Chickpea and Carrot Salad with Curry Dressing, and Cucumber and Avocado Salad.

Perhaps try some other Middle Eastern dishes: Okra in Tamarind with Prunes and Apricots, Babaganoush, Falafel, Parsley and Barley Salad with Spiced Marinated Feta and Chickpea “Tabbouleh”.

We have a wealth of Ottolenghi recipes that we have tried. Or have a look at all of our Okra recipes and all of our Salad recipes. Our Middle Eastern Dishes are here. Or spend some time browsing our Mid Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Warm Salad of Charred Okra with Tomato, Garlic and Preserved Lemon”