If you didn’t know of Ottolenghi’s middle-eastern inspired dishes before, you may know his name from his recent appearances on Australian Masterchef. And, Gary’s ongoing incorrect pronunciation of his name ….. yoh-tam! It’s actually ‘yoh-tem’ if you’re wondering.
I’ve been swept up by the ‘Ottolenghi Effect’ as they call it. I’ve found myself owning nearly every cookbook of his, meticulously adding post it notes to all the recipes (which by the way tend to have nothing short of what seems to be 400 ingredients….). In a past life, I’d never actually cooked a thing from the books. Seriously, the book Simple (another one of his famous cookbooks) couldn’t be less reflective of its title.
Anyway … lockdowns and so forth …. I picked up his book Flavour last year, another purely vegetable-based book from the master – the two others being Plenty and Plenty More. Yotam writes that what distinguishes this book apart from his 2 other vegetable books is a focus on the 3 ‘Ps’ (process, pairing and produce). For me, the reasons why I got on the tools and decided to take the plunge into this cookbook was twofold: (1) I didn’t have to go to 10 different stores in VIC to find the ingredients for one dish, and then not quite find what I was looking for, so land on an inferior replacement; and (2) there were meals, proper vegan meals, not little wanky side dishes that I needed to cook a whole other thing with it to make it a dinner.
So here are my top 3 recipes from Ottolenghi’s Vegetable Cookbook, Flavour.
The Ultimate Tray Bake Ragu
A one-pot wonder with … you guessed it … maximum FLAVOUR. Aromats and mushies get chopped in a food processor, thrown into a large baking dish with intense umami flavours like Miso and Soy Sauce. Lentils and Barley follow suit. Coconut cream gives it that milky unctuousness. All with ingredients that you can buy at your local supermarket (win). The 60g of dried porcini mushrooms will set you back a bit, but do not skimp out here. Coles even sells these bad boys and they will do you just fine. This makes at least 8 portions and no one is complaining about that. Ragu for Daaaays.
Here is what my vegan partner had to say about it – “Wow. This is epic. Where’d you buy this from? Is it Smith & Daughters? No, it’s not. Its better. What the ##$$% this is good.” Aaaaand, I’ll stop there because the swearing (in joy) just increased.
Stuffed Aubergine (Eggplant) in Curry and Coconut Dal
Put this on any dinner party table and your guests will be blown away. Or put it in front of your partner during lockdown and tell him that he better bloody like it. Yes, there’s a bit of process involved, but the result is well worth it. Think crumbled tofu mix (Yotam’s suggested vegan replacement for paneer), flavoured with salty mango pickle (bought from any indian grocer) rolled in eggplant sheets. These little parcels sit on top of a coconut dal flavoured with curry leaves. Grab a mate and make an activity out of it.
From the mouth of my vegan partner … “Oooooooh boy. Oh, my, god. Get in my mouth. You won’t even know what hits you when you take a bite of this eggplant-y/dal-y/tofu-y flavour bomb. Do I even deserve this?”
See I told you it’s pretty…….
Portobello Steaks and Butter Bean Mash
Real talk, I didn’t make this because my partner does not like mushrooms in their whole form (yes, he liked the ragu, but that’s because he didn’t know they were mushies at the time – *wink wink nudge nudge*), but one of my girlfriends whipped it up and my oh my was it goood. As good as any steak, or even better, these mushrooms are oozing with garlic-chilli goodness. A twist on mash using butter beans is genius and gives it that ultimate comfort food vibe.
And there you have it, three of my favourite dishes from Yotam’s vegetable-inspired Flavour cookbook.
Do you have any faves that I’ve missed?