It is safe to say that Ottolenghi is very in fashion in the culinary world. His most famous cookery book, Jerusalem, sold like hot cakes and his column in the guardian is very well received. He has recently appeared on Radio 4s Desert Island Disks, and has opened numerous restaurants in London (fingers crossed they come to Manchester)!
Ottolenghi’s food is exciting, interesting and often vegetarian which is why I am such a fan. He comes from Israel originally so there is a real middle eastern influence on his flavours which is truly delicious! Be warey that some of his ingredients can be a little on the pricey side, but I have found that once you commit to buying a jar of Za’atar or a big bag of pine nuts it will last you ages. Alternatively, you could just have a look at some recipes and get some inspo and recreate a cheaper version instead.
Below is my favourite side dish which I have recently cooked and went down a treat!
Roast butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar
1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
If you want a vegetarian dish to make an impact on the table, this does the job – it looks great and has really complex flavours. Serves four.
Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.
Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.
To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.