The food: vegetable dishes inspired by Yottam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty
I’ve been a fan of Yottam Ottolenghi’s cooking since sampling his cuisine at one of his eponymous shops in London and trying some of the recipes he has published online via The Guardian and Telegraph newspaper websites.
So I’ll be buying the North American version of his cookbook Plenty, when it is published this March, with a cover featuring eggplant (or aubergine, as they like to call it in England) with pomegranate seeds and a buttermilk yogurt sauce.
I know the book is a good one because I recently skimmed the British version, borrowed from the library,
and found it to be full of delicious-sounding and looking recipes for vegetables prepared in what I’ve come to recognize as the Ottolenghi style: one that combines Middle Eastern ingredients, flavours and cooking methods with those of other cuisines – such as Japanese, French, or Hawaiian, for example; employs fresh herbs, and often pairs vegetables with fruits and/or nuts.
Take the three dishes from Plenty that I – clearly craving something sweet – freely adapted and made this past week: broccolini and sweet sesame salad, sweet winter slaw, and roasted butternut squash with sweet spices, lime and green chili.
The key to the broccolini salad recipe was the sesame seed garnish, and the dressing, made with tahini, water, tamari, honey, cider vinegar and mirin.
The recipe for the roasted squash with sweet spices, lime and chili, can be found here. Its delectability comes from the textural and taste contrast between the roasted squash pieces and the cool tahini-yogurt-lime juice sauce.
And my rendition of Ottolenghi’s sweet winter slaw (recipe here) came out as a sunny combination of mango, red cabbage, mint and toasted macadamia nuts tossed in a dressing made fragrant with more lime juice, maple syrup, soy sauce and sesame oil.
I ate these dishes and imagined a not-too-distant future in which my dinner plate was often filled with colourful, healthy and delicious vegetables prepared in the Ottolenghi style. A future I hope to realize when I buy the book.