Here at The Happy Foodie there are few things that cause as much commotion as the release of a new Ottolenghi cookbook. We’ve been itching to getting our hands on Ottolenghi FLAVOUR for months, so when our copies finally arrived we wasted no time in ripping off the packaging and immersing ourselves in this captivating book. Ottolenghi FLAVOUR is not your average meat-free recipe collection; Yotam Ottolenghi and co-author Ixta Belfrage are after something much bigger than that. This book is a deep dive into the science of flavour, designed to help you master new cooking techniques, understand ingredient pairing, and unlock the complex flavours in simple vegetables. To give you a glimpse of what Ottolenghi FLAVOUR is all about, we rounded up some (very enthusiastic) home cooks, armed each of them with a copy of the book, and set them loose in their kitchens. To find out how they fared on their culinary adventures, read on.
Who: Genevieve Halbert - Marketing Executive, The Happy Foodie
What I made: Sticky Rice Balls in Tamarind Rasam Broth
What I thought: This was hands down the best thing I've cooked all year. The tamarind rasam broth, made with tamarind pulp, ginger, and fresh turmeric, had an incredibly intense flavour - sweet, salty, sour, and spicy all at once. This mouthwatering broth was punctuated by charred, sugar-sweet cherry tomatoes, blackened lemon slices, and herb-flecked sticky rice balls. The delicate, clean tasting rice balls provided a perfect counterpoint to the robust, complex flavours of the broth. For such a flavourful dish this was surprisingly easy to make. There are a few stages involved, but the rice balls can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge, making this a very viable midweek meal. I made this for my family and there were literal "wows" all round, even from my usually vegan-sceptic brother.
Who: Indira Birnie - Senior Manager, Audience Marketing, Penguin Random House
Who: Claire Daverley, Marketing Manager, Page Turners
What I made: Za'atar Cacio e Pepe
What I thought: How do you make Cacio e Pepe, one of the best, creamiest, most satisfying dishes known to man, even better? Add za’atar, apparently. The addition of this fragrant, delicious spice really gave this comforting dish a bit of edge, and shot it to the top of my favourite midweek meal list. I didn’t have bucatini in the cupboard so I used humble old whole wheat spaghetti (in an attempt to be slightly healthy, in spite of the mountains of cheese involved), and I also swapped the marjoram leaves for some homegrown oregano, simply because I struggled to find the real ingredient in the supermarket. It was a super easy, quick meal to knock out after a stressful day at work, with barely any prep, just a little frying of butter, cooking of pasta, and grating of two kinds of cheese. Even I, the most basic of cooks, couldn’t really get this one wrong. Throw it together for a bowl of warm, cheesy heaven, and Bob’s – Yotam’s? – your uncle (I WISH Yotam was my uncle.)
Who: Stephenie Naulls - Head of Campaigns, Ebury Publishing
Who: Alice King - Publicity Officer, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Saffron Tagliatelle with Ricotta and Crispy Chipotle Shallots
What I thought: This was unlike any pasta dish I’ve ever made. The combination of the slightly pickled chillies and the sweet, crispy chipotle shallots was heaven. It was simple to make and you can soak the saffron and pickle the chillies earlier in the day to get ahead. Perfect for an indulgent week night meal or to make a big batch for a dinner party. I used shop-bought tagliatelle but there is also a recipe to make your own Saffron Tagliatelle for the very brave cook.
Who: Morgana Chess - Campaigns Assistant, Ebury Publishing
What I made: Broccoli with Mushroom Ketchup and Nori
What I thought: This dish delivered the flavour on every level. The dried porcini mushrooms made the ketchup really earthy and rich, and the crunchy salty peanuts with nori flakes were the perfect topping for the broccoli. I served this dish with the Dirty Rice from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR as a side and it was a winning combo. Delicious! And much easier to make than I thought it would be – next time I will be making additional quantities of the ketchup to have on toast!
Who: Clara Triboul - Senior Data & Strategy Manager, Penguin Random House
What I made: Chickpea pancakes with mango pickle yoghurt
What I thought: I love the modernity of well-balanced vegetarian dishes. This book is a gem of creativity, and I can’t wait to explore more recipes! To begin with, I set my mind on these chickpea pancakes because they seemed simple enough and quite frankly I had a big bag of gram flour I didn’t know what to do with. Well, who knew pancakes could be so flavourful? Their rich depth of flavour was nicely balanced with the tangy sweetness of the mango yoghurt. An absolute winner. Making these (vegan!) pancakes is straightforward, perfect for a Sunday brunch, and the recipe invites experimentation. I’ve already switched the boiled egg for a fried, and I might add roasted veggies next!