As with Plenty and Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi once again lures readers into the kitchen to try their hand at the enticing, ambitious dishes mapped and beautifully photographed in Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi.
Where Plenty grouped recipes by ingredient, Plenty More arranges its contents according to technique: Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked, Sweetened. Each section demands a varying array of skill and exotic ingredients, and while Ottolenghi suggests more common alternatives to Iranian limes and barberries, a couple of the recipes call for enough unusual key ingredients to discourage the home cook.
Ottolenghi is aware of the challenge presented by his cross-continental tastes — his weekly recipe submissions for the Guardian over the past eight years have drawn no shortage of aggravated comments from online readers — and succeeds, for the most part, in making his newest shared dishes accessible to Western markets. The instructions call for no fancy equipment, and the procedures for even the more complex recipes are fuss-free and well ordered. While it may seem daunting at first glance to attempt to produce these gourmet meals, those who make the effort are rewarded with dishes sure to please and impress.
From the most basic to the more intricate recipes, the menu out of Plenty More surprises and delights diners in both presentation and flavor profile. The harmony of diverse tastes in Sweet-and-Sour Leeks with Goat’s Curd, for example, is reflected in the dish’s ocular aesthetic: golden sautéed leeks against green parsley and white creamy goat cheese, bejeweled with the vivid purple of finely-chopped red onion and currants soaked in a white wine and cider vinegar reduction. Colorful salads incorporating citruses — from orange to grapefruit to pomelo — embrace bitterness against caramelized figs, sumac, and black sesame. Zucchini “Baba Ghanoush” layers broiled zucchini under a yogurt-and-Roquefort sauce decorated with toasted pine nuts in warm chili butter and a dash of za’atar, to the visual effect of “a volcanic eruption, in the best possible sense.”
Plenty More draws heavily on the culinary influences of its author’s world travels. From North Africa to East Asia to Southern Europe — and back home again to the Middle East — the culinary diversity of this cookbook brings vegetables and fruits to the fore of any meal. “Just like me, other cooks are finding reassurance in the abundance around them that turns the cooking of vegetables into the real deal,” Ottolenghi writes of the “Vegi-Renaissance” of the past decade. “The world is their oyster, only a vegetarian one, and it is varied and exciting.”
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Recipe: Butternut Squash with Buckwheat Polenta and Tempura Lemon
Karl and I spent a few months in Boston working our way, among otherthings, around the city’s eateries. One of our top five memories is thetempura Meyer lemon skin we had at restaurant Toro on WashingtonStreet. It was sublime. A squeeze of fresh lemon can be used as analternative, but for those with the time or inclination, it makes the dishspecial.
1 large butternut squash (1.3 kg)
3 tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp/25g unsalted butter, diced
1¼ cups/300 ml vegetable stock
3 oregano sprigs
15 black peppercorns
8 allspice berries
6 cardamom pods, crushed
6 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
Rind of 1 large orange, shaved in long, narrow strips
8 cloves garlic, lightly cracked with the skin on
3 tbsp/30g roasted buckwheat (kasha) or buckwheat groats
frac23 cup/900ml whole milk
3¾ cups/900ml vegetable stock
frac13 cup/10g oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp thyme leaves
Shaved rind of frac12 lemon
frac34 cup/120g polenta
frac14 cup/60g unsalted butter
salt and white pepper
3 tbsp plus 1 tbsp/25g cornstarch
5 tbsp/75ml cold soda water
Sunflower oil, for frying
1 lemon, cut crosswise into frac18-inch/3mm-thick slices
Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC. T rim the top and bottom off the butternut and halvelengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and cut each half into 3 long wedges, skin on.Place the wedges in a large roasting pan with all the remaining squash ingredients and ¾teaspoon salt, coating the butternut well with the aromatics. Bake for 50 minutes,turning the butternut pieces every 10 minutes or so and spooning the juices over them,until the squash is cooked, golden brown, and starting to crisp on top. Add a little stockduring cooking if the pan is drying out.
Meanwhile, to make the polenta, put the kasha in a small baking pan and toast in theoven at the same time as the squash for 5 minutes, or10 minutes for plain groats. Remove and crush lightly with a pestle andmortar.
In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the milk, stock, herbs, lemon rind strips,¾ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of white pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to lowand whisk in the polenta and buckwheat. Using a wooden spoon, stir every few minutesfor 35 to 40 minutes, until the polenta is thick and cooked. If it is getting too thick, adda little water. At the end of the cooking, stir in the butter. The polenta should be thickbut r unny enough to fall off the spoon easily. Cover the top of the polenta with plasticwrap to stop a skin from forming and leave somewhere warm.
T o make the tempura, mix together the flour and cornstarch, then whisk in the sodawater until the mixture is smooth and runny. Sit the bowl over ice for 45 minutes.Pour oil to a depth of 1¼ inches/3 cm into a saucepan and heat to about320ºF/160ºC. Dip the lemon slices into the batter and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, untilgolden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle immediately with salt.Place a spoonful of warm polenta on each plate and lay a squash wedge across it, adding amix of the baked aromatics on top. Finish with a tempura lemon slice and serve at once.
Reprinted with permission from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.
Nat Bernstein is the former Manager of Digital Content & Media, JBC Network Coordinator, and Contributing Editor at the Jewish Book Council and a graduate of Hampshire College.