We were very excited during our short visit to London to find that Ottolenghi operates a deli in Belgravia, near where we were spending the day exploring that neighborhood and the Knightsbridge area (which includes Harrods Department Store). Now based in London, the Jerusalem-born chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi has become very popular in the United States as well as Britain and the European Continent. Ottolenghi’s cooking style is rooted in, but not confined to, his Middle Eastern upbringing: “a distinctive mix of Middle Eastern flavours – Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Israeli and Armenian – with a western twist”. We have enjoyed many dishes that we and our friends have prepared from his cookbooks, including Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Jerusalem, and Plenty.
While this location of one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants features primarily take out, we were able to order luncheon plates of a combination of salads plus drinks for lunch. Our favorite (which we’ve cooked at home) is the roasted aubergine (eggplant) salad. The pastry selection was difficult!
After our lunch at a courtyard table behind the restaurant (there is no interior table service), we enjoyed exploring the Knightsbridge neighborhood, as we headed to some exhibitions at the “V & A” (Victoria and Albert Museum).
As an addendum to this blog post, here’s a sample recipe for one of Ottolenghi’s savory salads, from the Ottolenghi.com web site:
Roast butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar
If you want a vegetarian dish to make an impact on the table, this does the job – it looks great and has really complex flavours. Serves four.
1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary
Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.
To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.