Plen­ty More: Vibrant Veg­etable Cook­ing from Lon­don’s Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi
  • Review
By – November 24, 2014

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.”

Relat­ed content:

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.

(Serves Six)

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

Tem­pu­ra Lemon
4½/​35g flour
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.

Discussion Questions