Entertainment

Whether you’re short on time, making ahead or looking for a lazy-day dish, Ottolenghi Simple satisfies

Our cookbook of the week is Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. To try a recipe from the book, check out: beet, caraway and goat cheese bread, cauliflower, pomegranate and pistachio salad, and slow-cooked chicken with a crisp corn crust.

Yotam Ottolenghi is synonymous with bold, fresh and exciting flavours. And while definitely delicious, few home cooks would describe the recipes in his celebrated cookbooks like Plenty (2011), Jerusalem (2012) and Sweet (2017) as “easy.” With Ottolenghi Simple (Appetite by Random House, 2018), the London, U.K.-based chef, restaurateur and food writer proves that pared-back doesn’t mean sacrifice: “Ottolenghi Simple is not a contradiction in terms!”

Ottolenghi Simple

With Ottolenghi Simple, Yotam Ottolenghi proves that pared-back doesn’t mean sacrifice.

Appetite by Random House

Easy, of course, is relative. What seems perfectly feasible to one home cook could appear insurmountable to another. Adding to the variability, Ottolenghi says, is that nobody is just one type of cook. What we gravitate towards on a weeknight is likely hugely different from a meal we would attempt on a Saturday night. Simple cooking clearly doesn’t fall into a single category.

To address this fact, book collaborator Tara Wigley devised an acronym as a way of indicating in which way(s) each of the 130 recipes qualify. “We knew the recipes were great and they work but the question was how do we put them together? How do you curate them? How do you sell them? How do you convince people that they are easy and good for them?” says Ottolenghi. “That was when Tara came up with the acronym SIMPLE, which was just a clever little way to crack it.”

For example, his beet, caraway and goat cheese bread is ideal if you’re looking for something to make ahead (M) with the added bonus of being easier than you might expect (E): “Making a bread that requires no yeast or kneading has got to be the definition of simple!” While Ottolenghi’s cauliflower, pomegranate and pistachio salad is a perfect dish to make ahead (M) if you’re short on time (S; less than half an hour), or want to forgo a trip to the store (I; 10 ingredients or fewer).

Yotam Ottolenghi

Chef Yotam Ottolenghi is a restaurateur and the author of bestselling cookbooks including Plenty, Jerusalem and Sweet.

Jonathan Lovekin

In developing the recipes for the book, Ottolenghi says they chose to start from scratch rather than simplify existing recipes; reconsidering dishes that they might make at home and never thought of as appropriate for a cookbook. Recipes that still highlight hallmark flavours – such as preserved lemon, sumac and tahini – but in a less challenging way. The abbreviated pantry section reflects this new approach. In addition to everyday ingredients like olive oil, dried pasta and canned beans, there are just 10 “Ottolenghi” ingredients, including black garlic, rose harissa and za’atar.

“I always had in the back of my mind many people, my sister included, saying to me, ‘You know, we love these flavours but we don’t cook because it’s just too much work.’ For a working family or for working dads and moms that have a lot going on, it just doesn’t really happen that often,” says Ottolenghi. “Not all my old recipes were complicated; many of them are not. But that was the perception, so it was a challenge for me to say, okay, I can actually do recipes that will still deliver on the flavour, still deliver on the surprise, on the contrasting texture, while still satisfying people that don’t cook that way.”

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close