Posts Tagged ‘ottolenghi’

My continuing research about how to improve my overall health, has led me to modify my diet so that it’s 70 to 80 percent fruits and vegetables, with a little starch and protein to round it out. I am primarily eating fish (every possible kind of seafood) and fowl (chicken and duck) for my protein, which is what I relied on for my main source of protein for the 24 years I didn’t “eat mammal.” I try to get my starch from healthy sources like sweet potatoes, but I’m half Japanese, so I regularly eat rice. I’m also not one to give up all comfort foods, so I occasionally make gluten-free pasta using brown rice or chickpea flour pastas, which the kids love. I often toss the pasta with chicken sausage, braised chard and fresh tomatoes to “health it up.” And since dairy and I remain estranged, the only dairy I consume is a little grass-fed butter, ghee and organic whole-milk, Greek-style yogurt on occasion.

Since my diet is mainly focused on vegetables, I’m reframing my idea of what constitutes a meal. I grew up with the idea that dinner included a main dish–usually involving meat, accompanied by a simple salad and cooked vegetable. My new favorite thing to do is cook 3-4 vegetable side dishes, which together with a little protein make a fun, nutritious and not-at-all-boring meal in which there is not necessarily an obvious “main dish.” And I truly dislike eating salad for the sake of eating salad, so I’m continually searching for salads that feel like a meal in and of themselves.

I made, served and ate this particular salad this past summer, but it’s really a dish for all seasons, and all its ingredients are readily available year-round. It’s from the Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. I’m a huge fan of all Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, having first discovered his incredibly delicious food in a tiny shop off Kensington High Street when I lived in London many moons ago. I was new to London–and newly pregnant, and stumbled upon the tiny shop purely by accident. Even though I lived in London only a few years, I considered a takeout meal from the shop a special treat. I fondly remember marveling at all the delectable looking dishes displayed in tiers in the shop front window. My mouth would instantly start watering upon seeing the array of colorful vegetable dishes and beautiful, yet simple desserts. Everything was fresh, flavorful and colorful. What I appreciate most about Ottolenghi’s cooking is that (most of) the dishes are relatively simple to make relying heavily on an abundance of spices and variety of textures. It’s what makes his food beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

Most of the recipes I share on my site are completely my own invention, or they are ones I’ve modified from someone else’s recipe, or developed by combining various parts of several people’s recipes. However, this one I want to share as is because it’s perfect just as it is. One caveat is that I’ve been making it so often that I’ve stopped measuring the ingredients, and it’s fair to say you have a lot of leniency with this recipe; a little extra this or a little less that still results in a delicious salad.


1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

3-1/2 oz/100 g pitted, Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 small pitas, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup/75 g whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp chile flakes

5 oz/150 g baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice



Place the dates and onion slices in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and pink of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

While the date mixture is marinating, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan. (I use my 10-inch cast-iron pan.) Add the pita and almonds and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Note: The Ottolenghi recipe actually says to cook the pita for 4 to 6 minutes, but that has never been enough for me, so maybe our US pita cooks differently. Remove from the heat and mix in the sump, chili flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside too cool.

To serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large bowl. Drain off and discard any extra vinegar from the date/onion mixture before adding the dates and onion to the spinach. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Adjust seasoning as desired and serve immediately.



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I first made this dish a few months ago, at the end of a day that had gotten away from me. I knew there were six or so chicken thighs tucked in the meat drawer of the refrigerator, which I had planned to whip up into some Middle Eastern dish. However, I was out of time, and recognized I was short a few ingredients for some of my favorite Ottolenghi dishes.

I’m a big fan of skillet dishes and just about anything braised, so mustering up a last bit of inspiration, I threw this together in about 30 minutes, and we all declared it delicious. Because I love simple, easy to prepare meals, I loved this dish even more for its remarkable flavor given it’s incredible simplicity.

We ate ours with a simple side salad, but you could also serve it over mashed potato, mashed cauliflower, rice or a little pasta.



6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on (about 2 lbs)

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes

1 14-oz can artichoke hearts

1-2 tbsp capers plus a little juice

sea salt

fresh-ground pepper

1-2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped, optional




Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel, season liberally with salt and pepper, and set skin side down in the skillet. Brown on both sides, about 6-8 minutes total. Use tongs to remove the thighs onto a plate or bowl. Set aside.

Drain the chicken fat into a small bowl (never pour down your drain!). Add in the olive oil and onion and cook, stirring frequently, under the onion softens and begins to color. Add in the spices and garlic, and cook 2-3 minutes more. Return the chicken thighs to the pan, skin side up. Add in the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, capers and caper juice and stir a little to combine (without covering the chicken). Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken thighs are cooked through and the tomatoes and onion have started to break down.

If you eat chicken skin, as I do, and you like yours super crispy, as I do, you can place the skillet uncovered under the broiler for a few minutes just before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired, and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Happy eating!





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lentil above2lentil close

I recently had the pleasure of cooking dinner, at a lovely home in Santa Cruz overlooking the ocean, with a friend whose husband and young son are primarily vegetarian. It reminded me that I tend to cook in a distinct pattern. That is, I usually prepare a meat-based entree served with a cooked vegetable side and a green salad. Healthy, yes, but a little boring in its repetition. The evening I cooked with the above mentioned friend, we served steak (the meat entree), along with four or five vegetable dishes, which combined for a great meal. Not that any of us have time to whip up six dishes for every dinner, but it got me thinking… I want to cook more vegetarian dishes not just cook more vegetables.

One of the dishes my friend made that evening is this lentil salad. She said the recipe comes from the genius Ottolenghi team, but I couldn’t find it in any of their books. My friend didn’t use precise measurements, but I’ve tried to capture fairly precise measurements based on my own taste. It’s definitely one of those dishes you can make, then taste, adjust, taste again, etc. However, I have included the measurements for the dish as I like it (since I’ve already made it three times in the past two weeks).

The combination of flavors and textures surprises and delights. I also love the different colors even though the main ingredient–French lentils, is an uninteresting greenish-brown. And while sun-dried tomatoes seem strong-flavored on their own, as does gorgonzola cheese, they blend perfectly together in a surprisingly mild, yet still very flavorful way.

I also think this dish works with just about anything. We served it with steak, but it would have been a great accompaniment to roasted chicken or grilled halibut or any vegetarian dish.



3 cups cooked French lentils*

1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped, plus a little oil from the jar

1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp fresh dill, thick stems removed and leaves chopped

2 tbsp fresh chives, snipped or cut in small lengths

2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Coarse-ground sea salt

Fresh-ground pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

*If you happen to live near a Trader Joe’s store, they sell steamed lentils in the produce section. Cooking your own is always better, but in a hurry, the pre-cooked lentils make this dish a cinch to prepare!



Mix everything together in a large bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil, season to taste and stir to incorporate. Serve at room temperature.




lentil above

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sumac above


I had planned to post an entirely different recipe today, but when I reviewed the photos I thought “Oh no! I can’t possibly expect people to believe that the avocado bruschetta I made tastes delicious.” I don’t know how I’d missed the fact that I’d drizzled on too much balsamic “syrup.” A thin drizzle of dark, red-brown balsamic syrup looks elegant. A drizzle of thick, dark, red-brown that’s so heavy it’s starting to pool looks like… Well, you get the picture.

But no worries! The cooking never ends, and while I brush up on my drizzling and photography skills, you can travel east. This roast chicken recipe from my cherished Ottolenghi cookbook comes together with minimal effort and gives you an incredible mix of flavors, textures and colors. It’s certainly a radical departure from the average roast chicken dish, and if you love Middle Eastern cooking as I do, you will appreciate the wonderful spice blend in this recipe.

sumac close



1 large organic chicken, cut into 6 pieces

2 small red onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbs sumac (available in many supermarkets)

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus extra

1 tsp fresh-ground pepper

2 tbsp za’atar*

4 tsp unsalted butter

6 tbsp pine nute

4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern mix of spices with toasted sesame seeds. It’s used regularly on yogurt sauces, fresh bread, meats and fishes. I couldn’t find it in my Whole Foods Market so I made my own using 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 2 tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp sumac, 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.



In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, salt, and pepper. Place in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a large rimmed baking sheet–large enough that all the chicken pieces can lie flat with space in between. Arrange the pieces skin side up. Sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken and onions and put the pan in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is colored and just cooked through.

While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small frying pan. Add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat.

Transfer the chicken and onions to a serving plate and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and pine nuts. Serve immediately with couscous a vegetable dish.




sumac side



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beans above


Here’s another recipe from my favorite Ottolenghi cookbook. (I’m also trying a Middle Eastern chicken dish from the same book tomorrow night, which I’ll post if I deem it a success.) I originally made this vegetable dish as a side for our Christmas dinner, but it’s probably best suited for spring and summer meals–just because that’s when the haricots vert and snow peas are in season.

I love that this dish is bright green in color, with a great mix of textures and flavors. The thin slivers of orange zest add a twist, and balance the mellow slightly sweet earthiness of the hazelnuts. Like so many of Ottolenghi’s vegetable dishes, this one can be served warm or at room temperature.



14 oz haricots verts

14 oz snow peas (also called Chinese peas)*

1/2 cup unskinned hazelnuts

1 orange

3/4 oz fresh chives, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp hazelnut oil (or other nut oil, such as walnut)

Coarse-ground sea salt

Fresh-ground pepper

*Substitute sugar snap peas if you prefer


beans close



Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a small, sharp knife, trim the ends off the beans and snow peas, keeping the two separate. Bring water to boil in a large saucepan (fill to 1-2 inches from the top). Blanch the beans for 4 minutes, then drain using a colander and run them under very cold water. Let them drain then pat dry. Blanch the peas for just 1 minute.

While the beans are cooking, scatter the hazelnuts over a rimmed baking sheet or shallow oven-proof dish and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool until you’re able to handle them, then rub them with a clean kitchen towel to get rid of most of the skin. Chop the nuts roughly.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in strips, taking care to avoid the white pith, which is bitter. Slice each piece of zest into very thin strips using a small paring knife.

To assemble the dish, mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature.




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swt pot dish


I blogged about the Ottolenghi cookbook about a year ago, but I never tire of using the incredible recipes contained within it. Simple to make but resulting in complex flavors, the dishes are inventive and delicious. Of course, the food and photographs remind me of my days living in London, where a stop into Ottolenghi would start my mouth salivating, and I would rush home eager to tuck into the little boxes of delight.

I think this dish works for any season, although it would make an especially good accompaniment to a winter holiday dinner. I love that you can serve it warm or at room temperature–something common with many of the recipes from Ottolenghi.

A word about making the dish more family-friendly: My kids don’t appreciate much “heat,” nor are they fans of a lot of cilantro or parsley, but it’s easy to serve little ones first, before you toss in some of the more “controversial” ingredients. (Note: This recipe is from the Ottolenghi cookbook, but the Ottolenghi founders, Yotam and Sami, originally found the recipe on epicurious.com.



2-3 sweet potatoes, washed but unpeeled

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbsp pecans

4 green onion, chopped, white parts and a little green

4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

4 tbsp golden raisins

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper



Preheat oven to 375F/190C.


swt pot tray

Cut the sweet potatoes (with the peel still on!) into 3/4-inch cubes. Spread the cubes out on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle a little salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients and make sure the cubes are evenly coated. Roast in the oven for about 30 or until just tender, turning them over gently about halfway through.

Put the pecans in a small, shallow oven-proof baking dish and toast for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and chop them coarsely.

For the dressing, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

When the potatoes are ready, transfer them into a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and pour in the dressing. Toss to blend, and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately or at room temperature.





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turkey burger high


I suppose this dish is just a continuation of my current turkey craze. Maybe it’s because we see so many along the roads here in Marin where I live. (My son and I even named one who frequents our neighborhood, Herbert, although I’m pretty certain “he” is a “she.”) Or maybe it’s because I’m impressed at how relatively healthy turkey meat is–especially given its economical price.

At any rate, these “burgers” are incredibly flavorful and juicy and pair perfectly with a tzatziki sauce. You could make the “burgers” more burger-sized and serve each one on a lightly-toasted sesame bun–with or without the tzatziki, or make them smaller and serve two or three over a bed of crisp lettuce with a little tzatziki on top like I like to do. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

turkey burger close


Like most of my recipes, this is easy to prepare without being so easy and plain that it’s pedestrian. These burgers also reheat well, so you can make enough for two meals. The actual burger recipe is from the gorgeous book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. 9781607743941_p0_v1_s260x420The tzatziki recipe is my own. If you haven’t picked up a copy of this cookbook, you should. Most of the dishes are very straightforward and easy to prepare. I’ve loved everything I’ve cooked so far from the book, and the text and mouthwatering photographs make it an incredible read. As a side note: Ottolenghi was one of the first places I discovered when I moved to London. It was on a narrow crooked street in Kensington that I just happened upon. It wasn’t a sit-down restaurant–just a patisserie-style take-out place that also offered catering. Every single dish I bought from the tiny shop was amazing.





1 lb ground turkey (white or dark meat)

1 large zucchini, coarsely grated (1 1/2 to 2 cups)

3 green onions, the white parts and a little of the green, thinly sliced

1 large organic egg (or egg substitute if you have allergies)

2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

sunflower oil for searing



1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 a large cucumber, peeled and grated

1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp high-quality olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

1-2 tsp sumac

*If you’re making tzatziki for a more special occasion, I recommend 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup sour cream. If you’re using it on grilled vegetables or chicken, you can add 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill instead of the sumac.



Start by making the tzatziki. Combine all the ingredients for the tzatziki, except the sumac, in a small bowl and chill until needed.


turkey raw


Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the burgers except the sunflower oil. Mix well until everything is evenly incorporated. Using your hands, shape the mixture into approximately 12 burgers–2-3 inches in diameter.

Pour sunflower oil into a large cast-iron skillet until the bottom is covered with a 1/16-inch layer. Heat over medium heat then place the burgers in and brown them on both sides (approximately 2-3 minutes per side). Transfer the burgers to a parchment lined baking sheet or broiler pan and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until just cooked through.

Serve warm on a bun or on a bed of lettuce. Spoon a little of the tzatziki over the top and sprinkle the sumac on top of the sauce. Serve the extra sauce on the side.

Serves 4 to 6.

Happy eating!

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