Tag Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ultimate Winter Couscous

Yotam Ottolenghi, introducing his recipe for “The ultimate winter couscous” in Plenty, wrote that when he first published the recipe in his Guardian column, a reader complained about the long list of ingredients. And indeed, the list is long: from apricots to vegetable stock, the recipe calls for 23 ingredients.

A tagged and soon to be splattered page from my copy of Plenty

So lets start with a confession: I left out the half cup of dried apricots, and the preserved lemon too. (For reasons too boring to explain, I’d had to come up with a new dinner plan that afternoon and didn’t have time to buy the two missing ingredients.)

Did it matter? Not too much: The Professor liked the dish, giving it a B+/A-. Although when he heard about the missing apricot, he was curious, so I will include it next time. And based on The Professors comments, I think it could improve the dish on each of the three grading dimensions.

For taste, he gave it an A- and said that it was “good, but a little bit one-dimensional.” For both satisfaction and interestingness, he gave it a B+, and suggested adding a side of sauteed greens to make the meal more satisfying.

While I’m glad that he didn’t suggest a side of sausage, I wonder if the sweetness of the dried apricot might have deepened the flavor of the dish, satisfied the corner of our brain that loves sweet things, and made the dish more interesting.

A second confession: I’ve made the dish twice, and both times, i replaced the couscous with a small round pasta that is often called Israeli couscous. The second time, I didn’t have enough Israeli couscous so I added some quinoa.The Professor isn’t exactly a fan of health grains, so I didn’t tell him before the fact. But after the eating was done and I’d come clean, he said that the quinoa added to both the taste and texture of the dish.

Confessions done, next time I make Ottolenghi’s ultimate winter couscous, I’ll include the dried apricot. And maybe even the preserved lemon.

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A Yotam Ottolenghi-inspired Sweet Cole Slaw

You couldn’t call it seasonal cooking, but one of the first recipes that I plucked from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s Plenty was Sweet Winter Slaw. In characteristic Ottolenghi style, its flavors surprise — from the slightly sweet, slightly spicy dressing to the buttery crunch of caramelized macadamias, this is unlike any cole slaw you’ve ever tasted.

winter cole slaw

Or almonds, as the case may be. Since blogs are allowed to be confessional, I’ll confess that I took more than a few liberties with this recipe — using almonds rather than macadamias, nixing the mango and papaya altogether, and forgoing the fresh red chili because I’d bought a dried one by mistake. (Even Julia Child wasn’t perfect.) Next time I’ll also leave out the mint, an herb The Professor dislikes and that I found cloying in this dish — perhaps the missing fruit left the mint flavor hanging?

But to the rest of the recipe I was true, and it delivered a bright, flavorful slaw that would delight in winter, when the colorful, sweet vegetables of summer are many months away. Citrus flavors (from the lemongrass and lime juice) brighten the dressing, maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness, and chili flakes raise the heat. The combination nicely balances the ribbons of slightly peppery red and mild Napa cabbage.

I know what you’re thinking. Did The Professor like it? Well he didn’t grade the slaw per se, because he doesn’t grade side dishes — just entire vegetarian or pescatarian dinners. But he found the slaw interesting and full of flavor.

Ottolenghi suggested serving the slaw with Chard Cakes (a recipe in Plenty that I haven’t tried) or roast chicken (not for me). I served it with black bean tacos, a recipe I want to work on before posting. The Professor deemed it “good” and felt nicely satisfied, but it could use some improvement. So you’ll be reading about it again soon.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty

My copy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Plenty, bought just over two weeks ago, is already splattered and some of the pages are sticking together. And I haven’t even tried all of the recipes that I marked with Post-It Notes. Before I go¬† on about Ottolenghi’s best-sounding dishes, I need to apologize. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking. The Professor must eat, after all. But I’ve had a few too many projects. And a few too many dishes in a row turned out …. just OK. And it left me feeling a bit uninspired. Until, that is, I opened Plenty.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ottolenghi, he is the co-owner of four eponymous restaurants/take-out joints in London. He is from Israel, and his creative partner is from Palestine, and the two are united by their love for bold flavors and interesting ingredients from all cultures.

The Cook here at the Roasted Beet admires Ottolenghi especially because, while he wasn’t a vegetarian himself, he wrote a popular column for the Guardian‘s Weekend magazine called “The New Vegetarian.” (Plenty includes some recipes from his column, and some new ones — all vegetarian, and roughly half vegan.) Because he wasn’t a vegetarian, he approached vegetarian cooking with a focus on taste and flavor, which is the same way that this cook approaches vegetarian cooking for The Professor. Every dish needs to be yummy in its own right.

While a handful of the dishes sound delicious but familiar — a recipe for black pepper tofu, for instance, or one for mushroom ragout with a poached egg, that reminded me of this dish — many are inventive and surprising: chard and saffron omelets, savoy cabbage and Parmesan rind soup, soba noodles with eggplant and mango.

So far I’ve tried the stuffed portobello mushrooms with melted Taleggio cheese and the sweet winter slaw — both of which you’ll be reading more about soon.

Yotam Ottolenghi

There’s an interesting profile of the London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi in The New York Times today. Ottolenghi wrote a popular weekly column for The Guardian called “The New Vegetarian,” though he is not a vegetarian himself. Still, he loves vegetables and vegetarian dishes, and his column led to a best-selling cookbook, Plenty. Plenty is about to be published in the US by Chronicle Books, and I’ve already ordered my copy.

If you’ve eaten at one of his four eponymous restaurants in London, tell me how it was!