My friend Sam came over last weekend with a big box of vegetables from Shipton Mill‘s biodynamic garden and what seemed to be her entire kitchen larder. The haul including some of my favourite ingredients: beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, courgettes and a big pile of carrots. She also brought her copy of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. It was obvious what needed to be done.
In a welcome change from my usual foodie escapades, Sam took over the menu, choosing three recipes from Jerusalem:
- Basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currants and herbs
- Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad
- Pureed beetroot with yoghurt and za’atar
Pureed beetroot with yoghurt and za’atar
I’ve had various beetroot dips before, including River Cottage’s beetroot hummus which I adore. This was similar, but with yoghurt instead of tahini for creaminess and was extra exciting because it gave me an opportunity to use the date syrup I was gifted from Tim Clinch. But what really made it bad-ass was the inclusion of za’atar and a garnish of toasted hazelnuts and sliced spring onion. We enjoyed this, first on Saturday with Turkish style flatbread, and again on Sunday with sourdough bread baked by Julio Hevia.
I’m not sure if it was the bread or the beetroot, but everything seemed somewhat better on day two. The flavours of the pureed beetroot had a chance to mingle and develop, and you can’t go wrong with good sourdough bread.
Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad
As one Instragrammer put it, “roast cauliflower is the jam”. And it’s even more jammin’ with a kick-ass Ottolenghi dressing. The ingredients were a totally non-obvious combination of cauliflower, celery and pomegranates with a crazy combo of spices and flavours including sherry vinegar, cinnamon, allspice, maple syrup and parsley. It worked. In fact, I’m not even sure if the roast cauliflower was the most jammin’ part of the dish. The dressing was exceptional, and I especially loved how the sweetness of the dressing worked with the hazelnut and the celery.
Basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currants and herbs
If we had one regret with this recipe it was that we were short on fresh coriander. But never mind, this dish might also be described as “the jam”, and indeed it went exceptionally well with the roast cauliflower salad. It also fits well into the “vegetarian main course” category, and as omnivore Sam said, it proves that vegetarian food can stand alone.
Kohlrabi, carrot and radish salad
This dish was perhaps the odd man out. It was more of a pickle than a salad, and as a pickle lover, I think it was my most favourite dish of all. It involves massaging the veg with salt and sugar until the juices release, then letting them sit in their juices for 30 minutes before draining.
The veg then gets tossed with an unusual combination of poppy seeds, crushed fennel, lime juice, parsley and mint. It rocked my world, and made me REALLY want a mandolin slicer.
As we finished up our Ottolenghi weekend, I asked Sam if I could look at Jerusalem and take a snap of the recipes we made, but as I flicked through the pages, I found myself bookmarking recipe after recipe. This is definitely a cookbook to own and cook from again and again. There’s already talk of going aubergine style this weekend with his recipes for burnt aubergine and chermoula aubergine with yoghurt and bulgar. Yes, I know there are other cookbooks to try and chefs to learn from, but the thing is, there’s so rarely a miss with Ottolenghi. And furthermore, each dish is like a learning experience in flavour and texture combinations. That much of it is vegetarian is just a bonus (in fact, all of these dishes were vegan but for the kohlrabi salad which included fish sauce, but that’s optional).
Thanks to Sam and Shipton Mill for all the veg, to Riverford for my precious kohlrabi of intrigue and to Julio Hevia for the sourdough bread. Look out for more delicious results from Shipton’s biodynamic farm in blog posts to come. It’s summer glut time, prime opportunity to indulge my obsession with pickles!