So here we are, half a month into the new year, many of us having made health or diet related resolutions. Are you sticking to yours? The owner of my old gym once told me that you can work out for hours every day at the gym, but if your eating is undisciplined, you are wasting your time. I believe him… so just to clear the air, that’s not why I don’t work out there anymore. Today I want to share a cookbook that shifts healthy eating to a preferred alternative. Yotam Ottolenghi, the British restaurateur, chef, and cookbook writer, brings the upscale spa dining experience to your kitchen. That’s how eating at home should be. Ottolenghi keeps healthy cuisine uncomplicated and delicious with 120 beautifully photographed recipes.
For example, eggplant…. often considered to be one of the more boring vegetable options, right? Not his recipe (see cover shot)- My experience so far with this cookbook is that Ottolenghi’s recipes are both pleasing to the eye and the tastebuds, and most are quite doable for people with busy work schedules. Here is the recipe for the cover shot:
EGGPLANT WITH BUTTERMILK SAUCE
2 large and long eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp za’atar
9 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don’t eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.
Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil—keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.
While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane. (FYI, some groceries sell pomegranate seeds, if you don’t feel like going to this effort)
To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.
To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za’atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
note: I did not have the ingredient za’atar, which is a middle eastern spice mix, and it still turned out beautifully. I will definitely be making this again.
Yotam Ottolenghi is one of the most exciting new talents in the cooking world, with four fabulous, eponymous London restaurants and a weekly newspaper column that’s read by foodies all over the world. Plenty is a must-have collection of 120 vegetarian recipes featuring exciting flavors and fresh combinations that will delight readers and eaters looking for a sparkling new take on vegetables.
Yotam’s food inspiration comes from his Mediterranean background and his unapologetic love of ingredients. Not a vegetarian himself, his approach to vegetable dishes is wholly original and innovative, based on freshness and seasonality, and drawn from the diverse food cultures represented in London. A vibrant photo accompanies every recipe in this visually stunning book. Essential for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike!