Yotem Ottolenghi’s Aubergine Dumplings Alla Parmigiana

Serves: 4

This really is a dish that tells you that vegetables really are better than meat.

Line it up against a chicken parmigiana and hands down the eggplant wins. Even without the shallow fried-breadcrumb.

The basil. The ricotta. The Parmesan. The toasted breadcrumbs.

Brilliant.

I don’t often cook a dish twice in quick succession, though this is now in the repertoire. Make the sauce a few days ahead, the aubergine mixture in the afternoon and bam, with a salad of greens, you’ll have just a marvellous dinner on your hands.

Another Ottolenghi home-run.

Ingredients

90gm fresh breadcrumbs (preferably sourdough)
4 aubergines (eggplants) roughly cut into 2 1/2cm cubes (1kg)
150ml olive oil, plus extra for shaping
100gm ricotta
75gm Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
10gm parsley, finely chopped
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
6 garlic cloves, crushed
15gm basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 x 400gm tins of peeled plum tomatoes, blitzed until smooth (600gm)
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
3/4 tsp paprika
2 tsp fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
45gm pitted Kalamata olives, roughly torn in half
Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and dried out. Set aside to cool and turn the oven temperature up to 220c.
  2. On a large, parchment-lined tray, toss the aubergines with 75ml of oil, 1/2 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Spread out as much as possible and bake for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until golden brown.
  3. Roughly chop the aubergines not a chunky mash, then transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until cool. Once cool, add the ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, egg, yolk, flour, breadcrumbs, a third of the garlic, 10gm of the basil, 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well, then with lightly oiled hands, shape the mixture into 16 golf-ball-sized dumplings, about 55gm each, compressing them as you go so they hold together.
  4. Put 2 tbsp of oil into a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. In two batches, fry the dumplings for 3-4 minutes, turning them until golden-brown all over. Adjust the heat if they’re browning too much. Add another 1 tbsp of oil and fry the remaining dumplings in the same way. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c. Put the remaining 2 tbsp of oil into a large sauté pan on a medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, chilli flakes, paprika, oregano, 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper and cook for 8 minutes or until thickened slightly, stirring occasionally. Pour 400ml of water, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Pour the sauce into a medium baking dish, top with the dumplings and bake for 20 minutes, until bubbling. Remove from the oven, scatter over the olives, the remaining basil and a grating of Parmesan, and serve.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s (All the) Herb Dumplings with Caremelised Onions

Serves: 4

A few weeks back, Nat pull together an absolutely wonderful three-part Yotam Ottolenghi dinner.

Every dish was just Yoman clever/unique/amazing as they always are.

Though these herb dumplings with caremalised onions were the evening’s winner. (They’re from his cookbook Ottolenghi Test Kitchen (OTK) Shelf Love, a cookbook I highly, highly recommend. An absolute delight to flick through, not a recipe you wouldn’t cook.)

Slightly Middle Eastern, it’s one part the herbs which really are earthy and deep. With the other part being the slow-cooked onions, with the butter, saffron and cardamom.

It would be a meal in itself, alongside a green salad.

Though as a side, it was just damn clever; and it would certainly indicate to your quests that a special meal was coming.

Ingredients

1kg onions (about 5 or 6), halved and sliced 1/2cm thick
10 cardamom pods, roughly bashed open with a mortar and pestle
60ml olive oil
110gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 garlic cloves, crushed
100gm fresh coriander, roughly chopped
100gm parsley, roughly chopped
70gm dill, roughly chopped
30gm tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
7 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
50gm whole-milk ricotta
100gm Greek feta, roughly crumbled
60gm Parmesan, finely grated
1 large egg
70gm plain flour
1/3 tsp saffron threads, roughly crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Put the onions, cardamom, half the oil, 40gm of butter and 1 tsp of salt into a medium baking dish and mix together to combine. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, stirring 4 – 5 times during, until softened and nicely caramelised.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large, non-stick sauté pan on a medium heat. Add the herbs and spring onions and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and turmeric and cook for 10 minutes more or until the herbs are deeply green and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  4. Beat together the ricotta, feta, 50gm of the Parmesan, the egg, 1 tsp of salt and plenty of pepper in a large bowl. Add the flour and the cooled herb mixture and mix well. Refrigerate to set, about 20 – 40 minutes. Use your hands to roll into 12 compact dumplings, about 45 – 50gm each.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer on a medium heat. Drop in the dumplings and cook for 10 – 12 minutes, or until they rise to the surface and have cooked through the centre. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the dumplings to a tray lined with kitchen paper, to dry.
  6. When the onions are ready and hot from the oven, add the remaining 70gm of butter, the saffron and the lemon juice and mix everything to combine. Turn the oven temperature up to 200c fan.
  7. Top the onions with the dumplings, slightly spaced apart, then sprinkle over with the remaining Parmesan. Return to the oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until everything is bubbling and warmed through.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roast Cauliflower with Yoghurt and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Serves: 4

I start every Ottolenghi recipe with some statement about how they are all consistently great and I’m agraid I am going to have to do it again.

Because this dish – you could call it a salad – is layers upon layers of just incredibly complimentary flavours, with crunch and spice and the cooling yoghurt at the end.

Nat cooked it along side a medium-done, barbequed eye fillet and the pairing was magic.

Indeed, bring this salad to a barbeque and even a medium-rare, chargrilled tomahawk will struggle to knock the cauliflower off first stage.

Yum!

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, trimmed, then cut into wedges (800gm net)
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 onion peeled, halved and cut into 1.2cm-thick slices
1 tbsp coriander seeds lighly toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 1/2 tsp sumac
25gm mint leaves roughly chopped, plus 1 handful extra to serve
30gm pine nuts, toasted

For the yoghurt sauce

300gm Greek-style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 – 2 lemons)

For the red pepper sauce

70ml olive oil
2 tbsp mild Turkish pepper paste (or tomato paste)
1 tbsp red chilli flakes (or 1 1/2 tbsp if using tomato paste)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 3 tbsp of oil and 1/2 tsp of salt, then spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 22 – 25 minutes, until lightly charred though still with bite. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a medium saute pan on a medium heat, Once hot, add the onion and 1/8 tsp of salt and cook, stirring occassionally, for 15 – 18 minutes, until soft and browned. Tip the onions into the cauliflower bowl and wipe clean the pan.
  3. Put the oil for the pepper sauce in a saute pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the pepper paste and red chilli flakes and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Take off the heat, stir in a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper and transfer to a medium heatproof bowl.
  4. For the yoghurt sauce, mix the yoghurt, garlic, a tbsp of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.
  5. Stir the coriander, caraway, sumac, mint, half the pine nuts, the remaining 1 tbsp of lemon juice and a good grind of black pepper into the cauliflower bowl.
  6. To serve, spread the yoghurt sauce over a shallow platter and arrange the cauliflower mixture on top. Spoon over half the red pepper sauce, then top with the extra mint leaves and the remaining pine nuts. Serve with the rest of the pepper sauce in a bowl alongside.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Fish Koftas in Ancho Chilli and Tomato Sauce

Serves: 4

The genius Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book – Test Kitchen, Shelf Love – was one of my presents for Nat this Christmas just gone.

We’re spending the week post-Christmas, laying low. Waking up late, cooking or eating out, opening a Champagne each day no later than 1.

I kicked it off with this recipe last night.

It is just excellent.

With fluffy white rice and yoghurt to cool the spice kick, it is unique and particularly moorish.

The sauce can be made a day or two ahead meaning it is only a matter of frying the koftas when you need them.

Could not be easier. Could not be better for a lazy night in.

Cold beer essential.

And Merry Christmas 2021. Stay safe.

Ingredients

For the koftas

500gm firm sustainable white fish (e.g. cod, though we used barramundi)
4 spring onions, finely sliced
10gm dill plus extra to serve
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
30gm panko crumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce

1 1/2 dried ancho chillies, stems removed
2 tsp caraway seeds toasted and roughly crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, roughly chopped
60ml olive oil
1 green chilli, halved lengthways
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 – 4 plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly grated
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp caster sugar
25gm fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. For the sauce, put the ancho chillies into a small bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Leave to soften for 20 minutes then drain, discarding the liquid. Roughly chop the chillies, then put them in a food processor alone with two-thirds of the caraway and cumin, all the garlic, the onion and 2 tbsp of oil. Blitz to a coarse paste.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan on a medium-high heat. Add the ancho paste, green chilli and tomato paste and cook for 7 minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant. Add the grated tomatoes, stock, 200ml of boiling water, the sugar, half the coriander, 1 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep warm on a low heat until needed.
  3. Meanwhile, make the koftas. Finely chop the fish into 1/2 – 1cm pieces. Put them into a large bowl along with the spring onions, dill, chilli, lemon zest, egg, panko, the remaining coriander, the remaining caraway and cumin, 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper and mix well to combine. Form into 12 round fish cakes.
  4. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large frypan on a medium-high heat. Add half the koftas and fry for 2 1/2 minutes per side, until golden. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining oil and koftas.
  5. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the koftas, then turn the heat down and cook for 10 minutes, to cook through. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes then top with the extra dill leaves.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken

Serves: 4

You have to give it to this guy. He is so clever.

And this dish is just that. Like, screw you clever. Like, why didn’t I bloody think of that clever.

Like one-pot-pasta clever, though cleverer than the first batch of one-pot-pastas we were all inundated with five years back.

It’s the simplicity. The rusticity. And the various textures of the spaghetti, from soft to crunchy: the caramelised chicken.

Look at that spaghetti!

And it is fun to dish and eat.

Screw you clever.

It is a weeknight meal though served on a Saturday night with friends, it would absolutely not look out of place.

It is just that fun… and good.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg skin-on chicken thighs (4-6)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1cm dice
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 c boiling water
230gm spaghetti, broken into thirds
1/3 c lightly packed finely grated Parmesan
3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c.
  2. Add 1 tbsp oil to a large, ovenproof lidded skillet and heat over high. Season the chicken with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, then add to the hot oil, skin down. Cook for 7 minutes, without turning, to brown well.
  3. Turn down to medium-high, stir in the onion and turn over the chicken; cook for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is slightly browned. Add the tomato paste, garlic and 1 tbsp thyme and cook, stirring the paste into the onions for 2 minutes or until fragrant and all browned.
  4. Add the boiling water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, then add the spaghetti, stirring to submerge and evenly distribute. Lift the chicken pieces so that sit on top of the spaghetti, skin side up. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest and remaining thyme.
  6. After the pasta has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the oven to its highest setting and get the grill on. Sprinkle the Parmesan mixture evenly over the chicken, drizzle with the remaining oil and grill for a few minutes until nicely browned and crisp. Set aside for a few minutes and serve straight from the pan.