Fall Cookbook Series :: Jerusalem
If you know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, you have most likely heard me fawn over Yotam Ottolenghi and his culinary empire of London takeaway shops aptly named Ottolenghi, his three cookbooks, his newest restaurant Nopi and most of all, his beautifully inspiring recipes. Somehow I knew nothing about Ottolenghi until a visit to London nearly 4 years ago, and a completely chance encounter with his adorable jewelbox of a shop in Notting Hill, the first Ottolenghi location, there are currently 4. I spotted the shop from across the street and made a mad dash. And then walked inside and nearly had a heart attack. It was almost as though my vision of food and philosophy around eating had spawned into a brick and mortar shop, with a distinctly Middle Eastern accent. Ottolenghi places a huge amount of emphasis around vegetables in his cooking and at his shops...and it pays off. His cookbook Plenty is devoted to veg and was a massive best-seller. And thus we come to Jerusalem, the newest book from Ottolenghi and his business partner and childhood friend, Sami Tamimi. Shocker, it's a doozy. The two grew up together in Jerusalem, one on the west and one on the east, Jewish and Arab sides respectively. The book weaves in the wonderful mixture of countless cultures and historical events that have influenced the city's cuisine for centuries. When you can connect a story or meaning behind a dish, that's when magic happens around the table and that's when barriers can be broken. I love all the snippets of childhood memories and mini history lessons sprinkled over the pages of Jerusalem, amongst 120 approachable recipes - both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, but all oh so enticing.
A few of my favorites that I'll definitely be testing out...
Chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt
Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio and mixed herbs
Watercress and chickpea soup with rose water and ras el hanout
Stuffed eggplant with lamb and pine nuts
...and cardamom rice pudding with rose water and pistachios - for my dad who loves rice pudding
To give you a sneak peek at just one of the incredible recipes in the book, below is Ottolenghi and Tamimi's recipe for roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar
Serves :: 4
1 large butternut squash, cut into ¾ by 2 ½ inch wedges
2 red onions, cut into 1 ¼ inch wedges
3 ½ tbsp olive oil
3 ½ tbsp light tahini paste
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 ½ tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar*
1 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
*za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix and can be found online or in many specialty markets.
Preheat the oven to 475F.
Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and toss well.
Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.
Pour the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.
To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.
Images via Jerusalem by Jonathan Lovekin and via Telegraph.co.uk
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