A Spring Salad

Today is a delicious Spring salad of asparagus, French beans, Broad beans, Edamame, and spinach. It creates a wonderful array of green, and this can be changed to your liking. Try chard, rocket, watercress, for example! It is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.

We love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, it makes you stop to check what’s in there. Spring and Early Summer are the time to do this as there is artichoke, rocket, asparagus, broad beans, watercress, samphire, peas, cabbage, all kinds of lettuce, runner beans, broccoli, sprouting broccoli, spring onion, chard, spinach and many, many more to choose from. When you put a few of these in one bowl, you get the most glorious celebration of colour and Spring. Thanks Ottolenghi.

It you make a lot of Ottolenghi salads, you will know that some toasted nuts sprinkled over the top of a salad makes a world of difference to the salad, adding both visual impact and a textural element. Making a large batch of toasted seeds will save you time – keep them in an air tight container. In this dish he specified sesame seeds and kalonji. We actually used a mixture of nuts and seeds that were left over from a previous salad – slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and kalonji.

Similar recipes include Broad Bean and Tomato Salad, Glorious Five Bean Salad, Shaved Asparagus Salad, and Tawa Edamame.

Browse all of our Bean Salads, Broad Bean Salads and Asparagus Salads.

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Beetroot, Yoghurt and Preserved Lemon Relish

How I love Autumn. Small bulbs of beetroot hit the shops with their stalks and leaves on, and are intensely earthy and sweet. Trim the stems and leaves leaving a little of the root if you are going to cook them. But beetroot is also very very good raw. Julienne it, or shave it paper thin and use in salads – you will wonder why you have never done this before.

Today’s salad can be made either way – with wedges of cooked beetroot or slices of paper thin raw beetroot. Either way is delicious! I will leave it to you to decide. Beetroot and yoghurt are a great combination either way!

And by the way, the leaves of the beetroot are delicious too. Saute them in a little olive oil with garlic and caraway seeds, for example, and served with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.

This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty. The photos today show the salad made with the slices of raw beetroot, but the original recipe chooses cooked beetroot. We have made it both ways, and can recommend both.

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 Kohlrabi, Beetroot and Celery Leaf Salad, Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad and Dip, and Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad.

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

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Spinach and Watercress Salad with Ricotta and Seeds

I have been growing watercress this year, as it is so expensive in the shops. The exercise has been somewhat successful but it seems I need a little more knowledge about growing watercress. Perhaps next year. I have taken an Ottolenghi Salad, an easy one, and made it with Baby Spinach, a little watercress and a lot of herbs. You could use rocket too, in place of or in addition to any of the ingredients..

The seeds sprinkled over this salad at the end give it a real boost in look, texture and flavour. I’d be tempted to make more of the mix than you need, and keep it in a jar ready for your next creation that’s missing a crunch.

This is another of Ottolenghi’s many herbal salads, like Ettie’s Salad, Celery and Lemon Salad. and Orange and Date Salad. They are so common in the countries from Afghanistan to Israel, across the Mediterranean and onto the coast of North Africa.

I have to mention how lucky I am to have a green grocer owned by a Middle Eastern family. They stock the best Dill that I have ever seen. Very thankful.

Similar recipes include Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad and Spicy, Crunchy Herby Salad.

Browse all of our Ottolenghi dishes, and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

Continue reading “Spinach and Watercress Salad with Ricotta and Seeds”

Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dressing

Cauliflowers, roasted whole, have become a fashionable item for sometime – perhaps you might say it is going out of fashion, along with cauliflower steaks. But riced cauliflower still makes a regular appearance and I am glad about that – late onto the bandwagon as usual, I tried it for the first time recently and it is quite amazing.

So it is a surprise that Ottolenghi has a roasted whole cauliflower recipe in his new book Simple. And simple it is – par boiled then roasted with butter and oil before serving with a green tahini sauce. Elements of Ottolenghi, without all the hoohaa of his other books.

In a way, though, it is shockingly simple. It almost doesn’t feel quite right, doesn’t feel quite  like Ottolenghi. Even the style of the book has changed – the texture is different (different papers used), the layout is different. I am in 2 minds about the style changes – I wanted it to have all the lux of over-the-top Ottolenghi cookbooks, but with simpler recipes.

The book defines simple in 6 different ways (the first letters of which spell out SIMPLE), and each recipe is labelled to indicate which of these various simplicities it belongs to. For me, the most important simplicity is S ie Short on Time. In my household, somewhere between 6 and 8 dishes are made daily, so spending a minimum of 1 hour on an Ottolenghi dish does not make efficiency sense, even though we might adore the dish. HOWEVER, in defence of Ottolenghi’s other books, they contain recipes that can be a whole meal. That is not the case in Simple. TBH, you’d have to make 2 or 3 dishes to make a whole meal from Simple, or pair one dish with other plates of food.

Another first impression is that, reading through Simple, many of the recipes feel like half-recipes. That is not a criticism! It is a comment on the way he layers textures and flavours in his other books, and thus the simplicity of this book shocks! For example, take Whole Roasted Cauli. I might have expected Roasted Cauli, pureed, with cooked and toasted chickpeas, a tahini dressing and herb oil topped with baby falafel with a sumac dust. No, wait! That actually sounds great! (makes note to self). But here in Simple, we have only the cauliflower with a tahini dressing. It does make the recipes very accessible for weeknight cooking. And, for all its simplicity, this dish is a cracker!

Again, the comments on simplicity are not a criticism, it is an emotional response. We all have these when confronted with change. During my project of cooking Plenty More I often lamented the complexity (especially of time) and hankered after some Elizabeth David recipes. I have my wish now, although perhaps the style of Simple is a little like Elizabeth David on a small dose of steroids. She can specify recipes in 2 or 3 lines. Ottolenghi still takes a page or 2 for each dish.

Truthfully, I can’t wait to dive into this book and get to know it as intimately as I know the others.

“I like to serve this in the centre of the table, for people to share with drinks at the start of a meal. We break the cauliflower apart with our hands, dip the individual florets and crisp green leaves into the sauce and sprinkle with salt.”

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 through Plenty More (nearly finished), 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 A Plate of Cauliflower, Cauliflower Roasted in Olive Oil, and Cauliflower Roasted with Mustard Seeds and Curry Leaves.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. As we cook more, you will find all of our dishes from Simple here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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

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Spring Onion and Pea Soup

Spring onions are relatively easy to grow and so we always have plenty of them. They go into everything in the peaks seasons – dips, salads, soups, my miso bowls, with noodles, with pasta, you name it, we put spring onions into it.

We have made Spring Onion Soup before, a South Indian one, gentle and unspiced. So it was interesting to find a recipe for a similar soup. I suspect that leeks would also work well in this recipe.  It is a lovely soup, lighter than the chickpea soups we have been cooking lately. Both whites and greens of the onions are used; they are sauteed with peas, zucchini and LOTS of garlic, and then blended with the stock. You might think that the garlic will overwhelm the dish, but the flavour mellows with the cooking.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe, and he uses a product from Iran called kashk. Kashk, or kishk, is produced by the fermentation and drying of yoghurt or curdled milk, to form a powder that can later be reconstituted. Iranian kashk is used to bulk up soups, giving them a wonderfully deep and sharp aroma, a bit like feta but in runny form. But don’t worry if you can’t get hold of kashk – a mixture of crème fraîche and grated parmesan (or other mature cheese) is a good substitute.

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 – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include South Indian Spring Onion Soup, and Steamed Eggplants with Spring Oni0ns.

Browse all of our Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Spring Onion and Pea Soup”

Crispy Battered Okra with Tomato Sauce and Herb Oil

Okra lends itself to crispy frying, and here is another recipe that batters and fries it until crispy, before nestling it on a tomato sauce. It reminds me of fish and chip shop battered potatoes and other vegetables. This is a recipe from Ottolenghi, so it is definitely a modern take on the crispy okra and okra with tomato sauce themes. The okra in the fish-and-chip-shop style batter is topped with sour cream, a tomato and bread sauce, and a gorgeously green herb oil. The batter is made with a touch of polenta, and mixed with buttermilk which gives it a lovely tang.

There will be more herb oil than you need, but it is infinitely versatile. Use the remainder to drizzle onto soups or over roasted vegetables.

Are you looking for other Okra dishes? Read more about Okra here. And try Stir Fried Okra with Sesame Seed, Warm Salad of Charred Okra, Tomato and Preserved Lemon, and Pickled Okra.

Browse all of our Okra recipes, and all of the Ottolenghi dishes that we have made. All of our Ottolenghi dishes are here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn collection of recipes.

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Miso Vegetables and Rice with Sesame Dressing

Oh my, this miso flavoured bowl of rice and vegetables is gorgeous. We have made it with noodles too, with equal success. Vegetables are poached in a mixture of miso, soy, mirim and vegetarian dashi for a high flavoured stock. They are served on rice (or noodles) and dressed with sweet rice vinegar, peanuts and sesame seeds. Highly gorgeous.

The play of the crispy veg with the soft rice and of the sweet and tart flavours of the sauce and dressing, the contrast of the dark sauce flavours with the freshness of the herbs and veg, the rubberiness of the mushrooms with the crisp veg, crunchy nuts and soft rice – all make this a dish worth the effort. Each veg has to cooked briefly, the rice is cooked, the sauce is reduced, the dressing is made, and, if you are making your own dashi, that needs to be made too. A comforting and nourishing dish indeed, but one that needs some time devoted to it.

The vegetables used are broccolini, carrots, shimeji mushrooms, cucumber and snow peas. It is a perfect balance of flavours and textures. It is best to use this combo the first time that you make it. It is an experience. For future dishes, if you need to change out some of the veg, consider substituting small broccoli florets, asparagus spears, enoki mushrooms etc. We have added sliced, rehydrated shiitake mushrooms too (delicious), and even the carrot can be substituted with jicama or kohlrabi if necessary. It is a versatile dish – sometimes we also add a few small leaves of Asian greens, blanched quickly in the stock. But the very very best combo of veg is the one specified by Ottolenghi.

The recipe is an Ottolenghi one from Plenty More, his recipe collection that never fails to delight! Use a rice that is a little sticky. He suggests sushi rice, and that is easily available.

Similar dishes include Udon and Shimiji in Mushroom-Miso Broth, Malaysian Lemak Vegetables, Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice, and Miso Sesame Dressing.

Browse all of our Rice dishes. All of our Ottolenghi dishes are here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book.  Or browse our Late Summer recipes.

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Polenta Crisps with Avocado and Yoghurt

Polenta crisps and polenta chips are the modern way to cook polenta, and both are jolly good. The polenta is cooked to a thick mass which is spread out on trays to firm up. It is then cut to shape and fried. I can’t tell you how moreish they are, totally addictive. And when used to scoop up an avocado, yoghurt and lime dip they are even more so.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty More. In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, it is relatively easy, just needing time to let the polenta cool. We are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, but the only change we have made to this recipe is to add some chopped curry leaves into the polenta. You can leave them out if you wish.

Not using polenta very much? Grab that packet from the back of the cupboard; these polenta crisps should do the trick: they’re very easy to make and even easier to eat.

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 recipes include Butternut with Buckwheat Polenta, Peter’s Wet Polenta and Tomatoes, and Pea and Mint Croquettes.

Browse our Polenta dishes, our Dips, and our Avocado recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

Continue reading “Polenta Crisps with Avocado and Yoghurt”

Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese

A sprout risotto? You’d better believe it. Brussels Sprout are such a controversial vegetable – you either love them or hate them. We grew up with overcooked and soggy sprouts that had the colour and natural sweetness leached out of them and left the kitchen with a cabbage-y sprouts aroma. So in our kitchen they are either eaten raw, roasted, fried, or sauteed with a little garlic.

Unusual pairings with sprouts include pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup. Salty, sweet and sour flavours are great – try lemon juice and lime juice, preserved lemon, capers, parmesan, chilli, almonds, barberries, pistachios, even tiny toasted croutons, all work very very well.

Today’s recipe uses Brussels Sprouts in a risotto. It is an unusual recipe but you will love it. It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines shredded sprouts and fried sprouts in the risotto with lemon, parmesan and the bite of Blue Cheese. How exciting! It is lemony, herby, cheesy, and of course, with the flavour of delicious sprouts.

In fact, 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 – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Brussels Sprouts Salad, Gentle Vegetables cooked in Wine, Three Cheese Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto.

Browse all of our Risotto recipes and Brussels Sprouts recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese”

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”