Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice

Another dish from Ottolenghi, this one was inspired by one of his trips to Malaysia. It is a loose take on Nasi Lemak, definitely the country’s most popular breakfast. But be warned: it is quite spicy. You can make the spice paste with far fewer chillies than Ottolenghi prescribes – feel free to just use half a fresh chilli and half a dried chilli if that is to your taste. In actual fact, we make this recipe with the sambals and sambal style chilli mixes that we have on hand (quite a few) rather than make his, and I have included both his recipe and links to our other pastes, purees and sambals that are suitable.

We like this variation on typical okra recipes. In this one the okra is simmered for a few moments only and then served mixed with the chilli-onion sambal on coconut rice. Use the freshest and best quality okra, because it is cooked so briefly.

Don’t omit the crispy fried shallots (available from Indian and Asian grocers) or the coriander. They add some texture and flavour to the dish that is essential to the overall impact.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Malaysian Lemak Style VegetablesSri Lankan Okra Curry, and Goan Okra with Chilli-Spice Paste.

Try these different Coconut Rice recipes too. South Indian Coconut Rice, and Balinese Coconut Rice.

Or browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Malaysian recipes. All of our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or take some time and browse our Early Winter dishes.

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Black Barley with Mushrooms and Roti-Style Yoghurt Flatbreads

Black barley is a terrific find, it is nutty and dark in flavour and cooks easily in 35 – 45 minutes. I came across it at Goodies and Grains in Adelaide Central Market while I was stocking up with a few items. It is an African barley just becoming available more locally. It is excellent in soups, salads, vegetarian “stews” (let’s call it a ragout) like this one and even with tostadas and such like. As a base for other ingredients, it is excellent – try Black Barley with this Charred Okra dish.

Today we are using it to replace pearl barley (you can do that in any recipe). Ottolenghi has a recipe for Barley and Mushrooms in his book Plenty. We first made this around 2011, when my daughter and her family came back from London. There was much celebration. Barley and mushroom is a soothing combination – it is well known in Italy where a type of risotto, orzotto, is made from barley and mushrooms. The delight of the dish is mainly a textural thing, with the barley both gently breaking and enhancing the mushroomy gloopiness. This recipe uses 3 types of mushrooms, and today we used porcini, shiitake and pearl mushrooms, as I had pearl mushrooms left over from making a Soba Noodle and Mushroom dish.

Ottolenghi’s recipe also has some roti-like flatbreads made from wholewheat flour and mixed with yoghurt. These are rolled out and cooked on a tawa, flat griddle or frying pan. They are super easy to make and go with any dish similar to this one. You can also use any Mexican or Middle Eastern flatbread to compliment the barley if you are out of time to make your own. Or some frozen roti from your Indian Grocery.

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.

It is a very wintery dish – perfect for brisk Autumn days through to Winter.

Similar recipes include Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice, Charred Okra with Barley, Barley and Porcini Risotto, and Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms.

Browse our Black Barley recipes, all of our Barley dishes and our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through his Plenty More book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
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Green Puy Lentils, Asparagus and Watercress

Green lentils, brown lentils, red lentils, black lentils, yellow lentils, split peas, dried peas – the world of Western lentils is quite different to the world of Indian lentils. It presents a challenge to your pantry space if you commonly cook lentils from both cuisines. Two of the coloured lentils we adore and keep in our pantry each winter – the green French or Du Puy lentil, and the black Beluga lentil.

This salad is terrific, mixing hot green lentils with parmesan and asparagus with a dressing made from watercress and parsley. In many ways, this dish is about the parmesan rather than the lentils, dressing or asparagus. That yeasty, earthy umami flavour with the lentils and dressing as a base will have you coming back for more and more. The asparagus offers a delightful crunch.

It is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty. Currently we are cooking from his book 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.

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.  For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

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

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

Continue reading “Green Puy Lentils, Asparagus and Watercress”

Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato

We have been making this dish for ever and a day. We make all sorts of variations. Sometimes we use Trecce, the plaits of Mozzarella, or really large balls, and tear them apart, drizzling with a grassy extra virgin olive oil and tossing tomato wedges, cucumber slices and basil leaves on top. It is divine, and ready in 5 minutes. Salt and pepper, and it is done.

Sometimes we use tiny bocconcini balls, cutting or tearing them in halves and marinating them, or using them as-is. Add some spring onions to the tomatoes and cucumbers. Drizzle with even more olive oil.

We can’t even remember where we first came across this practice but it is common. Ottolenghi has a great recipe where large balls of Buffalo Mozzarella are marinated in some spices, herbs, garlic and oil, before tomatoes are added. This is probably one of the simplest yet finest suppers you can make. It is a great summery meal to eat on the couch watching your favourite show.

Use only ripe summery tomatoes, juicy and sweetly intense, straight from the garden if you can. Get the best-quality buffalo mozzarella you can find. Serve with good crusty white bread. Enjoy!

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.

Are you looking for other Mozzarella recipes? Try Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Mozzarella and Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Caperberries, and Mozzarella with Crispy Tomato Crumbs.

We have lots of Tomato Salads. Try Tomato Salad with Lemon or Lime.

Browse all of our Ottolenghi recipes, and all of our Mozzarella dishes. Our Tomato recipes are here and our Salads here. Check out our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More.Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Smoky Aubergine with Tahini and Pomegranate

There is a marriage made in heaven, and that is eggplant and tahini. Oh, goodness, how magic happens with that combination. There are a quadzillion recipes that feature that specific combination, and it is no wonder. We have quite a few on this site too. They tend to be Middle Eastern in origin, or in style.

This recipe is no exception – it is Middle Eastern, it is magic, and it is delicious. The combination features pomegranate molasses, and the usual garlic and lemon juice. You will adore it.

It is an Ottolenghi treasure, from his book Plenty. We have a small project at the moment, to cook from his books, and currently we are cooking from Plenty More but not ignoring his other books altogether. I have to say, this is one of his simpler recipes, easy to make without too many processes. It can be made in just a few minutes after the eggplant is charred. This contrasts with the Persian Noodle dish we made yesterday, which contains 7 different processes and 5 different elements. Its a pleasure to cook such a simple dish after that one!

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 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 Roasted Eggplant with Chickpeas and Herb Yoghurt, Quince Molasses and Tahini Dip, Burnt Spring Onion Dip with Chilli-Garlic Kale, Babaganoush, Persian Style Eggplant, and Begun Pora.

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.

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Potato Salad with Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella

New potatoes in Autumn deserve special attention. They are simply gorgeous simmered, unpeeled, until tender then tossed while hot with butter, seasoning and finely chopped parsley.

Here we ramp up the flavours a little by tossing the cooked potatoes in pesto and mixing in smoked buffalo mozzarella. It is a magical combination, and gorgeous on a sunny Autumn day, sitting under the last of the grapevine leaves enjoying the sun and a bottle or two of wine.

This is my take on an Ottolenghi recipe in Plenty. He makes the salad with quail eggs. We do not use eggs in our kitchen, but we have found that either a good quality, soft and oozy buffalo mozzarella or some burrata are wonderful alternatives.

It is Ottolenghi Cook 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 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 Beautiful, Simple Potato Salad, Grown Up Potato Salad, and Fennel, Potato and Tomato Salad with Garlicky Mayo.

Browse our Potato Salads and all of our Potato recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Potato Salad with Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella”

Figs with Basil, Goat Curd and Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Late Summer and Early Autumn are peak time for figs. Any other time of the year, you will probably be getting fruit from great distances and, as figs don’t ripen after picking, this normally means that they are bland and dry. A great fig should look like it’s just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet. Once you’ve managed to find a fig that meets all these criteria, I guarantee a heavenly experience.

The unctuous sweetness of a fresh fig, combined with its ripe-rich texture, is unbeatable. I have been picking figs from a local estate, to make jam, and can tell you that nothing beats them straight from a tree. This salad was made with the left over, over-ripe figs.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe, from Plenty. Relatively easy, for an Ottolenghi recipe, it can be made at the last minute. Phew! So many of his recipes take an hour or 3 to make.

Similar recipes include Fig and Halloumi Salad, Fennel and Fig Salad, Fig Salad with Almond Butter Dressing, and Fig Salad with Hazelnuts.

Browse all of our Fig Salads and all of our Fig recipes. Our Ottolenghi recipes are here (and just the ones from Plenty here). Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Baked Yoghurt Encrusted with Vine Leaves

Ottolenghi believes that Turkish cuisine is one of the most exciting and accomplished in the world. I would argue that Indian is, but the cuisines between Indian and the Mediterranean definitely come close. Ottolenghi’s Book Plenty contains this unusual savoury cake (perhaps a pie) from the Turkish part of Northern Cyprus (where it is called Kibris Böreği).  A version of this dish is also known in Greece, being made in the Drama Region of Greece’s Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, where it’s known as Asmapita. The name comes from the Turkish word Asma, which means grapevine.

Ottolenghi credits a book Classic Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Basan, so I borrowed the book to browse through. It is a great book if you are looking for Turkish recipes. I recommend it.

The recipe caught our attention because we have a Vine Leaf thing going at the moment, using them in a number of ways. We haven’t made dolmades yet, but they are on the list. Have a look at what we have made so far. There are more to come.

This is a dish where a shallow layer of yoghurt mixed with herbs and thickened with rice flour is baked wrapped in vine leaves! Grape leaves impart their exceptional flavour and aroma to the filling as it bakes. The breadcrumbs and sesame seeds add a crunchy layer to each slice. How very delicious! This recipe comes together in minutes, tastes great, and can be eaten warm or cold. It is an excellent contribution to a table of mezze.

Have I mentioned too, how the grape vine leaves are scented, and the kitchen begins to smell like a grape arbour. As you scald them, they release the fragrance. As I dry them in the sun the outside deck is scented with grape vines. As they bake, they have a lovely woody, grapevine aroma.

Similar recipes include Dolmades, Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie, Burghul Dolmas, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, Grilled Pecorino in Vine Leaves, and Mushrooms Baked in Vine Leaves.

Browse our Turkish dishes and all of our Vine Leaf recipes. All of our Yoghurt dishes are here. Or explore our other Early Summer recipes.

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Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette

This year it is a long cold start to Summer. As I write, I sit here in a jumper in January, thinking of putting a rug over my legs rather than turn the heater on. So, needing something to warm the kitchen, I popped some roast veg in the oven.

Not any roast vegetables – this is an Ottolenghi dish, one that takes a common dish and makes it extraordinary. It is a favourite, and I don’t know why I haven’t posted it before. My note in the cookbook is “Magnificent” pencilled in the margin.

It takes sweet potatoes and parsnips and roasts them with garlic and (later) some cherry tomatoes, before dressing them with a tangy vinaigrette that is both sweet and sour, full of capers for a saltiness. It’s the perfect dish for any festival, celebration, Sunday lunch or any day of the week is born.

Ottolenghi says “The addition of a vinaigrette to freshly roasted vegetables gives them a freshness and juiciness they don’t normally have; the acidity brings out new shades of flavour, too.”

You might also like Roasted Beetroot with Cumin Seeds, Perfect Roast Potatoes, or Hot Roasted Carrot Salad.

Try some Parsnip recipes too: Roughly Mashed Parsnip with Parmesan and Olive Oil, and Parsnip and Carrot Mash.

Take some time to explore the Ottolenghi recipes we have tried. Our Sweet Potato recipes are here and our Parsnip recipes here. Or browse our Mid Summer collection of easy recipes. (You might prefer our Mid Winter recipes!)

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Freekeh Pilaf with Herbs and Yoghurt Dressing

Such a wonderful earthy flavour, Freekeh, that strange sounding name (to Western ears) belonging to the nutty grain. Sold whole or cracked, it is easy to find at Middle Eastern stores, some providores and some bulk lentil and grain places. Freekeh actually means rubbed – the process of removing the grains from its husks.

Like quinoa, freekeh is full of protein, with a beautiful smokiness, and is dead easy to cook. It is Middle Eastern duram wheat that is picked while unripe then traditionally roasted over wood fires to burn off the husks – hence its wonderful smoky flavour. Surprisingly it is also a little sweet, so a squeeze of lemon or lime always does wonders to a freekeh dish.

Freekeh is so unusual as generally the grains we use have been allowed to mature and dry on the head.

This dish is a take on an Ottolenghi dish from his book, Plenty, but has some minor variations. It is beautifully cooked by simmering for 15 mins and then leaving covered, to steam until cooked. Then it is tossed with herbs and topped with garlicky lemon yoghurt before serving.

Similar recipes include Grilled Lettuce with Farro and Lemon, Vegetable Pulao from the Beaches of Goa, Green Beans with Freekeh, Walnuts and Tahini, Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, and Rice and Cauliflower Pilaf.

Browse all of our Freekeh recipes and all of our Pilafs. Our Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or browse our Late Spring collection of recipes.

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