Yotam Ottolenghi introduces Flavour: the third instalment of his fabulous veggie-based series.
When Yotam Ottolenghi was first approached by the Guardian in 2006 to write a vegetarian column in their ‘Weekend’ magazine, he was hesitant. A non-vegetarian himself, he had never given vegetarianism much thought. But there was logic to the Guardian’s request: Ottolenghi had become famous for the freshness and originality of his salads, and his approach to cooking with vegetables and grains. It made sense to share this inspiration with vegetarian readers.
Armed with barely a month’s worth of recipes to begin with, he dived into column and discovered a world of ingredients and techniques, an endless array of dishes that inspired and fed him. He found reassurance in the abundance around him.
Fast forward to 2020, and Ottolenghi, this time alongside NOPI alumni Ixta Belfrage, is releasing a third cookbook – Flavour – dedicated to the celebration of plant-based recipes.
Veggie series books
Ottolenghi's veggie voyage of discovery
‘My journey of discovery into the world of vegetables – by which I mean anything, really, which originates from a plant – has taken me in all sorts of directions that I simply hadn’t imagined,’ he writes in the introduction to Flavour. ‘If my first vegetable book, Plenty, was the honeymoon period, a great big party where certain vegetables – peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, mushrooms – got a whole chapter to themselves, Plenty More was all about process; recipes were divided into the ways in which the vegetables were treated: mashed or tossed or grilled and so forth. Flavour is the third book in the series: it’s about understanding what makes vegetables distinct and, accordingly, devising ways in which their flavours can be ramped up and tasted afresh; it’s about creating flavour bombs, especially designed for veg…
‘A simple cauliflower, to use a favourite example, can reinvent itself in every book and in many chapters, showing up once as a seductive Levantine fritter, then grilled and engaged with saffron and raisins, only to return disguised as bulgur in a modern take on tabbouleh, followed by an incarnation as a glamorous savoury cake, a meaty steak, dressed as (coronation) chicken, or simply served whole, grilled yet totally unadorned, with only its natural splendour to call its virtues. This is how wide the range and how wondrous the potential of every single vegetable. Simply “magical”, to borrow a term favoured by my five-year-old son.’
Read on to discover more about the vegetable magic captured in Flavour, and click the links below to find recipes to help you stir up a little magic of your own.
A fruity dish from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage.
A vegetarian recipe that is simply as good as any steak (with mash), if not better.
A satisfying aubergine and lentil dish from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage.
Chewy, brownie-like cookies from Ottolenghi SIMPLE.
A yeast-free, no-knead bread that’s rich in seeds, herbs and flavour from Ottolenghi SIMPLE.
A rich, flavoursome chicken dish from Ottolenghi SIMPLE.
An appetising vegetarian side from Ottolenghi SIMPLE – perfect for brunch.
Ottolenghi delivers a delicious, fresh salad that’s easy to prepare from Ottolenghi SIMPLE.
Delight friends and family with this Victoria sponge with strawberries and white chocolate cream from Ottolenghi’s Sweet.
A fresh and flavourful starter dish from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Try your hand at this stuffed aubergine recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem.
Try this enduring fan favourite recipe from Ottolenghi: the Cookbook.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage Flavour Q&A
What makes Flavour so special?
Flavour is a celebration of wonderful, versatile vegetables, and how to build flavour with them. But it is not only a collection of beautiful recipes, but an approachable deep dive (and yes, we realise those words don’t usually go together) into how to create flavour bombs, and crucially why they work. We’ve done this by highlighting the processes that enhance vegetables, what you can pair them with to draw out distinct qualities and the sheer depth of flavour that some vegetables naturally possess that allows them to play starring roles.
What are the most versatile and adaptable vegetables?
All vegetables are versatile and adaptable, and can be enjoyed raw, cooked and in all shapes and forms. In Flavour a very good example of this is kohlrabi. Most people have only ever eaten kohlrabi raw, which we love (see our Kohlrabi ‘noodle’ salad) but we also love it cooked. There are three recipes in Flavour which ask you to roast kohlrabi (Potato & Gochujang Baked Eggs, Barley, Tomato & Watercress Stew, and Berbere Ratatouille). Roasting the vegetable turns it into an irresistibly sweet and soft version of itself.
How has your approach to cooking vegetables changed since Plenty?
It’s not so much that the approach has changed, but that there are now new influences in the Test Kitchen in the form of Ixta, who brings with her knowledge of Brazilian and Mexican cuisine and ingredients, and Noor, who brings with her a natural flair for cooking the food of her native Bahrain as well as the Middle East.
What are your favourite dishes in the book?
Our favourite dishes in the book change every time we look at it – but our core favourites are the Miso Butter Onions, the Spicy Mushroom Lasagne, the Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Grapes, and the Turnip Cake.
What are your staple ingredients, always to be found in your fridge / pantry?
It’s a fairly long list, but we couldn’t live without olive oil, tomato paste, dried chillies, tahini, soy sauce, za’atar, miso, parmesan, anchovies, lemons and garlic.
Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press)