Most people I know swear by Jamie Oliver for their quick easy recipes. I swear by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Why? Well Jamie does do a lot a good food but my personal opinion is you aren’t going to keep your weight down. He makes lots of things with pasta and potatoes – especially in his 30 minute meals book. Also – Jamie cooks mainly with meat. Not exclusively – just mainly.
We are by no means vegetarians – at least we weren’t! Freya (my fiance) probably won’t go back to the dark side. We just decided that the only way to get Freya’s vegetarian mum to eat better was to adorn her with lots of yummy vegetarian things that were easy to make – and hope that it rubbed off.
Plenty – one of the Holy Trinity of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks – is not exclusively vegetarian. That said – there are enough vegetarian recipes in this book that you won’t have to search for the Sides section and hope you can turn the dish into a main meal.
I’ve made almost every vegetarian recipe in this book and on the whole they are all incredibly easy, tasty and versatile. Only on a few occasions did I have to go to specialist shops for ingredients.
I can’t recommend this book enough. There is a lot of ‘foody talk’ in this book – and I generally don’t read the ‘blah blah blah’ – having been put off by Nigella’s half page introductions to almost every recipe. You will read this though. The man knows his stuff, he’s interesting, relevant, passionate and keeps things simple.
This seemed good until I read the recipe a bit closer and I was dubious that it would work.
After boiling some leeks until they are soft and patting them dry, you dip them in egg and breadcrumbs and fry.
You also make a pickled red pepper topping – and a yoghurt, sour cream sauce. You then plate the fried leeks with some sauce and peppers – and a few chopped spring onions.
Unfortunately leeks aren’t good carriers of egg – and in the end the breadcrumbs and eggs just ended up being separate entities in the pan.
It still tasted good – very good in fact – it just didn’t look great. I don’t think I’d make them again just because I like my food to look good.
I still haven’t made an Ottolenghi dish I haven’t enjoyed – I just didn’t like the presentation of this one – but that’s probably just my fault.
I love sweet potatoes. They are colourful, sweet, and have nowhere near as much starch as a regular potato.
This Ottolenghi dish is quite different in preparation to the leek fritters I made the other day – even if they do look the same.
I roasted my sweet potatoes until they were soft (I find you get a more intense flavour). I think the book suggests you boil or steam them.
Once you’ve drained and let the potatoes cool down you add a spice/chilli mix and mash to a quite thick puree.
You then fry them in 5cm wide x 1cm thick patties (mine are always larger) until they really brown – almost to the point where they look burned (like a good bubble and squeak).
You serve them with a yogurt dip (like most of the street type food in the Plenty book).
These are awesome – you really should make these. If they were just for me I’d add more chilli.
Most people see the word Vindaloo and think – HOT!!!!! – I don’t want anything that hot. Unless you’re like me and buy insanely hot chilli sauces just so you can inflict them on your friends and colleagues.
If you go on the title you’ll probably avoid this dish – until you check the ingredients list and realise it can’t possibly be hot. Yes there are spices – and yes there is one red chilli – but it’s just a regular red chilli – not a Scotch Bonnet or Ghost Pepper.
Vindaloo – means Wine and Potatoes. (vin = wine) (aloo = potatoes) and was created by the Portugese (and not the Indians as you might originally have assumed. The dish evolved and the wine was typically substituted for vinegar.
This dish conforms to all those rules – only in this case we have sweet potatoes and waxy potatoes (mine were new potatoes) cooked in a tomato and spiced sauce with garlic and white wine vinegar – along with a red pepper.
I made a lot of this. More than 3 meals worth and – as it says in the book – it just gets better the longer you leave it. This is the third day – and the spices have just made the dish even better.
Ottolenghi has some amazing recipes in the Plenty book – it’s one of the best books I own. This dish is excellent – although I think a contrasting dish alongside would be good.
So we ran out of food midweek. This only ever happens when we are oncall for work and can’t go out !
Anyway I decided to dig out my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi – Plenty.
This was the first book I scoured for recipes and struggled to eliminated anything I didn’t want to cook. In the end I made half the things in the book – including the Leek Fritter dish. Sadly I forgot to take a photo at the time – hence me making it again.
This isn’t a quick dish – but it is worth the effort. It certainly fills a hole and is very tasty.
All you do is sauté some leeks and shallots and once they have cooled down toss them in a spiced batter and egg white mixture.
Fry them like pancakes and they go all fluffy in less than 5 minutes – mainly due to all the self raising flour and baking powder.
These are really yummy – especially with the yoghurt and sour cream dip which has been blended with garlic, coriander, parsley and lemon juice.
They must be good. My mother in law loved them!
A definite keeper – and you can make these in advance – and take them to work the next day and reheat.