Few people understand the visceral pleasure of a smoky aubergine pulp or a potent paprika dip quite like Yotam Ottolenghi.
The celebrated Israeli-born chef produces dishes that are the very definition of feel-good, using ingredients that are bursting with flavour and colour and creating recipes that look as good as they taste.
He is, in short, a man after our own hearts.
So it's with no small amount of anticipation that we get set to herald in his latest cookery book, Plenty More. Like his previous bestselling cookbook , 2010's Plenty, Ottolenghi's latest tome reads like a eulogy to the versatility of vegetables, grains and legumes with an emphasis on flavour, original spicing and freshness of ingredients.
With over 150 recipes to choose from, the restaurateur and food writer breaks down his unique selection of dishes into evocative cooking categories; you can choose whether to grill, bake, simmer, braise or mash your ingredients, and so on.
"I have aimed to capture some of the techniques involved in constructing a dish, in putting together components and arranging them in layers of flavour, texture and colour," he says.
The resulting cuisine covers everything from Alphonso mango and curried chickpea salad to baked rhubarb with sweet labneh. So in the name of pure, unhurried and joy-filled cooking, we've selected three of our favourite recipes from the book along with a few videos from the man himself.
Aubergine with black garlic
Slices of roast aubergine have been through many incarnations and have been a constant feature on the Ottolenghi menu since we first set up shop in 2002. Every now and then a new kid on the block will appear to shake up the old-timers and our latest bright young thing is this black garlic sauce. I’d love black garlic to be more widely available: its taste is reminiscent of molasses and tamarind and it gives an unexpected depth of flavour to dishes. You can simply slice a few thin slivers and add these to crunchy salads or creamy risottos – it’s mellow enough not to dominate – or use it in sauces, dips and purées, as here, to enliven (and challenge) old favourites.
Ingredients (serves four)
- 3 medium aubergines, sliced widthways into 1.5cm rounds (900g)
- 200ml olive oil
- 8 large or 16 small black
- garlic cloves (35g)
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 1½ tsp lemon juice
- 7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (30g)
- 3 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds
- 5g dill leaves
- 5g basil leaves
- 5g tarragon leaves
- salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 250ºC/230ºC Fan/Gas Mark 9 (or to its highest setting).
1. Place the aubergine rounds in a large bowl with 60ml of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well and spread out on 2 large baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. Roast in the oven until golden-brown and completely soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2. Place the black garlic cloves in the small bowl of a food processor with 1/3 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of yoghurt and the lemon juice. Blitz for a minute, to form a rough paste, and then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix through the rest of the yoghurt and keep in the fridge until needed.
3. Heat the remaining 110ml of oil in a small saucepan on a high heat. Add the garlic and chilli slices, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic and chilli on to a kitchen paper-lined plate.
4. Arrange the aubergine slices, overlapping, on a platter. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top, sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and finish with the herbs.
Tomato and pomegranate salad
I rarely rave about my own recipes but this is one I can just go on and on about. The definition of freshness with its sweet and sour late-summer flavours, it is also an utter delight to look at. But the most incredible thing about it is that it uses a few ingredients that I have been lovingly cooking with for many years, and believed I knew everything there was to know about, yet had never thought of mixing them in such a way. That is, until I travelled to Istanbul and came across a similar combination of fresh tomatoes and pomegranate seeds in a famous local kebab restaurant called Hamdi, right by the Spice Bazaar. It was a proper light-bulb moment when I realised how the two types of sweetness – the sharp, almost bitter sweetness of pomegranate and the savoury, sunny sweetness of tomato – can complement each other so gloriously. I use four types of tomato here to make the salad more interesting visually and in flavour. You can easily use fewer, just as long as they are ripe and sweet.
Ingredients (serves four)
- 200g red cherry tomatoes, cut into 0.5cm dice
- 200g yellow cherry tomatoes, cut into 0.5cm dice
- 200g tiger (or plum) tomatoes, cut into 0.5cm dice
- 500g medium vine tomatoes, cut into 0.5cm dice
- 1 red pepper, cut into 0.5cm dice (120g)
- 1 small red onion, finely diced (120g)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 60ml olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
- seeds of 1 large pomegranate (170g)
- 1 tbsp small oregano leaves
1. Mix together the tomatoes, red pepper and onion in a large bowl and set aside.
2. In a small bowl whisk the garlic, allspice, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and 1/3 teaspoon of salt, until well combined. Pour this over the tomatoes and gently mix.
3. Arrange the tomatoes and their juices on a large flat plate. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and oregano. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
Now watch Yotam's video guide
Fried upma with poached egg
Upma, a thick semolina-based porridge, is a popular South Indian breakfast dish or tiffin-box staple. The spices are not as they might be if you were eating this later on in the day but, if your taste buds have woken up, you might want to increase the spices accordingly. The lime pickle is optional because it tends to slightly mask the wonderful flavour of the humble upma. Still, I love it so much that I can’t help but adding a little. I have a bit of a reputation in the test kitchen for the non-return of Tupperware when leftovers have been taken home the night before. Entirely undeserved, of course, but the Indian way makes me think that designated tiffin boxes might be the way forward.
Ingredients (serves four)
- 100g chana dhal
- 1½ tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing the tray
- 1 small onion, chopped (90g)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 30g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 20 fresh curry leaves (about 3 stems)
- 2 tsp black mustard seeds, toasted
- 1/3 tsp curry powder
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 30g unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 200g coarse semolina
- about 60g ghee or clarified butter
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 100g Indian lime pickle (Pataks or another shopbought variety), optional
- 120g Greek yoghurt
1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the chana dhal. Cook for 30 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and cumin and cook for 4 minutes. Add the ginger, chilli, curry leaves, black mustard seeds, curry powder and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring often. Add the peanuts, cooked dhal and 1 teaspoon of salt and fry for another minute, stirring from time to time. Add the semolina, pour over 400ml of water and cook for a final 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
3. Lightly oil a 20 x 20cm tray and spread out the semolina mix. Use a palette knife to flatten it down before setting aside for about 20 minutes, to cool and set. Wipe down the frying pan, add the butter or ghee and place on a high heat. Use a knife to cut the upma into four squares and then cut each square in half on the diagonal. Add the triangles to the pan and fry for about 6 minutes, turning once, so that both sides turn golden and crispy.
4. You will need to do this in 2 batches so keep them warm, in a low oven, whilst you continue with the second batch, adding more butter if you need to.
5. Finally, poach the eggs. Fill a shallow saucepan with enough water for a whole egg to cook in. Add the vinegar and bring to a rapid boil. To poach each egg, carefully break it into a cup, then gently pour into the boiling water. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and set it aside. After about 4 minutes the egg should be poached to perfection. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the poached egg to a bowl of warm water to keep it from cooling down. Once all the eggs are done, dry them on kitchen paper.
6. Put two triangles on each plate, leaning one up against the other. Spoon a poached egg alongside, with some pickle, if you like, along with some yoghurt. Serve at once.
Behind the scenes with Yotam Ottolenghi's new cookbook
Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press, Hardcover, £27) is out now