Yes, Yotam Ottolenghi has done it again. The food in "Simple" (October 2018) is simpler than with his other books, but you still need a core Middle Eastern pantry to make many of these recipes, a small ask. (Za’atar, harissa, tahini and pomegranate molasses are key players.) One of my favorite recipes is the cherry tomato pasta sauce that uses both olive oil and almost a cup of water so that the tomatoes can cook for an hour, reducing their flavor and texture—even my store-bought tomatoes tasted great.
As with his other books, you realize that Ottolenghi thinks about cooking differently: He roasts whole vegetables, even cabbage. “What happens is that with long cooking, the sugar starts to give you caramelization and the vegetable just tastes more and more of its own self,” he says of this approach. He uses full-fat yogurt as the base for sauces and dips. “I always have to have a tub of [it] in my fridge because I use it a few times every day,” he's told me. Just don't give him nonfat. He proves yet again the judicious use of spices is a game-changer, as with sumac-roasted strawberries, which he serves over the yogurt he loves so much. And drizzling a bit of spice or herb-infused oil just before serving is a quick method for jazzing up almost anything—one that, as the chef says, “you don't need to be a genius to do.”
Some recipes are adventurous (beet, caraway and goat cheese bread) while others (chopped salad) are closer to home. No matter. Cooking with Yotam Ottolenghi is always time well spent.
To hear more about the book—as well as the chef’s take on authenticity, garlic’s place in hummus and feeding two small kids—tune in to Milk Street Radio on Friday, December 22.
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