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Ottolenghi Recipes from Plenty and Jerusalem

10 November 2013 14,299 views 8 Comments

I’ve been cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi’s books ever since my cousin Rachel told me about him. Ottolenghi and his business partner, Sami Tamimi, were both born in Jerusalem — the former is Jewish and the latter is Palestinian.

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What I personally find very interesting about Ottolenghi’s approach to food is that he celebrates vegetables while at the same time also eating and enjoying meat. He was author of “The New Vegetarian” column in the Guardian magazine from 1996 to 2010, and he would sometimes mention when a dish would work well with a certain meat or fish. His recipes in the Guardian have were expanded to include meat in 2010; his vegetarian fans did not embrace this approach, and the column ended soon after.

I’m not burdened by rules, I don’t think in terms of ideology…[I want to] celebrate vegetables without making them taste like meat, or as complements to meat, but to be what they are. It does no favour to vegetarians, making vegetables second best.

We own two out of his three books — Plenty is all vegetarian, and Jerusalem — co-authored by Tamimi, includes meat and fish dishes, and highlights the variety of dishes served in this ancient city. The third book is Ottolenghi – we don’t have that one yet. I HIGHLY recommend both Plenty and Jerusalem, and have cooked more from them than from any other cookbook except maybe Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Without further ado, here are some of the recipes I’ve made, along with a note on whether I would make them again:

Lemony Leek Meatballs from Jerusalem

Green couscous from Plenty

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Would I make this again? YES! I would totally make both of these recipes again (and again).

The green couscous is made with tons of fresh herbs, and most were available and inexpensive at my local Asian market. It’s made with fresh parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, and mint and is a good example of the emphasis Ottolenghi puts on fresh herbs in many of his recipes.

The lemony leek meatballs are more like leekballs, because the leeks are the star of the show, with the ground beef playing a supporting role. I suppose Ottolenghi calls them meatballs because — who has heard of leekballs? And how unappealing do they sound?

These meatballs are absolutely delicious and the sour flavor of the lemon is perfectly balanced with the fat in the meat and oil and brightened up by the greek yogurt and parsley.

 Mejadra from Jerusalem

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Would I make this again? Yes.

I used Castellucio lentils since I had them from a previous Ottolenghi recipe (see below) and everything else was pretty straightforward. If you don’t have all the dried spices, visit your nearest spice store or grocery with a bulk section. The fried onions are kind of a pain since you’ll probably have to do them in batches, but it is totally worth it for the oily crunch they provide. This dish is total comfort food.

Castellucio Lentils with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola from Plenty

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Would I make this again? Maybe, but I would use less onions. The onions were pretty overpowering since there were so many, and they were raw, but the roasted tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and lentils were a nice combination.

Chicken Sofrito from Jerusalem

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Would I make this again? Yes, but I’m disappointed with myself for not properly browning and caramelizing my bird. What drew me to this dish is its Sephardic roots (and I’m very Sephardic-curious) as well as the fact that it uses copious amounts of garlic. It was tender to the point if literally sliding off the bone, and when I make it again, I will make sure to caramelize it properly.

Turkey and Zucchini Burgers from Jerusalem

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds from Jerusalem

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Would I make these again? Absolutely. After trying two of Ottolenghi’s burger recipes — I’m sold that his are some of the best I’ve tried anywhere. This salad is also a lovely (and easy) side.

Ruth’s Stuffed Romano Peppers from Jerusalem

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Would I make these again? Probably not. To be honest, the peppers were sweet and the filling was sweet and it just didn’t have the balance and pop of flavors that most Ottolenghi recipes have.

I’ve also cooked, and would definitely make the following again:

  • Mee Goreng
  • Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yogurt
  • Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad
  • Stuffed Artichokes with Peas and Dill

I’ve cooked, and would <maybe make these recipes again:

  • Brussels Sprouts and Tofu
  • Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger
  • Avocado Quinoa and Fava Bean Salad
  • Fried Cauliflower with Tahini

Are you an Ottolenghi fan? What recipes have you made?

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  • Mom

    I love this blog, Jodi. I am just making the spicy carrot moroccan salad from Plenty and it is declicous. I am serving it alongside bulgur, which I think will absorb the spices from the salad. I have made Mejadra from the Jerusalem book and that is a bit hit. What is fun about these recipes is that I feel that it has taken me out of my comfort zone and onto a new
    cooking journey.

  • jodibart

    Thanks, mom. I think one of the best things about Ottolenghi’s books is sharing favorite recipes with you and others. Can’t wait to hear how your dinner is tonight.

  • Laura H.

    I have owned Plenty for two months but have only made one recipe. So impressed at all of the love and work you put into this post and these meals. Thanks for motivating me to pull my book off the shelf!

  • Full and Content

    I don’t do a lot of cookbook cooking, but I love this type of food and these look great… might have to check them out. And I agree 100% with his stance on veggies, they should be celebrated for what they are, not disguised or treated as a side-kick to meat (and I’m saying that as a meat-eater!).

    Glad you got over the hump! :-)

  • Breanna

    Ooooh these look delicious. I think I know which cookbook(s) I need to put on my list for Christmas! :)

  • shefaly

    love the blog post and love that you listed everything you’ve tried. I passed on the link to fellow ottolenghi book owners too! i’ve made the lemony leek meatballs too and the salad (i think the salad is actually pretty amazing). i have made the stuffed eggplant (stuffed with lamb). can’t remember which one though. and i’ve made one of the butternut squashes. Have made several things but i don’t know which from which book, since i have all 3.

  • Jen

    You must try the sweet potato and fig recipe from Jerusalem — amazing!! I can’t get enough of this cookbook. Thanks for sharing your results. I must make those meatballs!

  • jodibart

    approved

    Jodi Bart Holzband
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