My sister bought me a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty as a Christmas gift, and I have started testing out some of the recipes. My expectations for the book were high after reading the New Yorker profile of Ottolenghi, which appeared in the December 3 issue. Fortunately, the book has more than met my expectations. (Thank you, sis for such a great addition to my cookbook collection!)
The book is a collection of recipes that Ottolenghi created for his weekly vegetarian cooking column in the Guardian. Ottolenghi makes the kind of vegetarian food that I like best, which is to say vegetarian food that's not trying to be like meat. These dishes could be eaten on their own or as an accompaniment to a piece of fish or meat--they're all packed with spices and fresh flavors.
I made his quesadillas on New Year's Day and enjoyed that they were mostly bean-filled with just a sprinkling of cheese--a heavy dose of cilantro and homemade pico de gallo made them feel fresh. Then the night before last I made his leek fritters with a Greek yogurt and herb sauce and a delicious bulgur pilaf. The pairing was a suggestion from the book and it made for a satisfying meal. I can't wait to cook more dishes from this excellent book.
Bulgur Pilaf from PlentyServes 4-6
About 6 tbsp olive oil
4 small white onions, thinly sliced
3 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2/3 cup currants
1 cup medium bulgur wheat
1 3/4 cups water
Salt and black pepper
Handful of chopped chives
1.Heat up the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onions and peppers together over medium-high heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they soften up completely.
2.Next, add the tomato paste, sugar, spices and currants and stir as you cook for about 2 minutes. Add the bulgur, water, and some salt and pepper. Stir to mix, then bring to the boil. As soon as the water boils, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, remove from the heat and leave to sit for at least 20 minutes.
3. Finally, fluff up the bulgur with a fork and stir in the chives. If the pilaf seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning; it's likely to need more salt and pepper. Serve warm.