an ode to ottolenghi

Tart
I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi in London.  Truth is I have never been to their newer places but always return to their original in Notting Hill every time we visit London.  On my first visit I bought their first cookbook, on my second visit I bought their second cookbook which is completely vegetarian.  We had a dinner party this past week and I made a few things from their book.  All good, all middle Eastern flavors but the hardest part was converting all the amounts.  Thank god for the Internet.

We began with a tart.  This is a major event.  I am going to give the very short version. 

1 red pepper sliced and de-seeded

1 yellow pepper sliced and de-seeded

1 eggplant cubed

1 sweet potato cut and peeled

1 zucchini cubed

2 medium Spanish onions thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 cup ricotta cheese (you are supposed to use 1/2 cup feta and 1/2 cup ricotta but I ran out of feta)

7 cherry tomatoes cut in half

2 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

thyme leaves

Make a simple crust and pre-bake it in the tart pan for about 30 minutes and let cool.  The bottom should be lightly browned. 

In a small pan, saute the onions with the bay leaves until they are completely carmelized.  Cool.

Set the oven to 350.  Put the peppers on a cookie tray separately from the other vegetables and let them just continue roasting the entire time the other vegetables are in the oven.  Mix all the vegetables separately with olive oil and kosher salt.  Roast the eggplant on a cookie tray for about 10 minutes.  Then add the sweet potatoes to the eggplant dish and roast another 10 minutes.  Then add the zucchini to this and roast another 10 minutes. 

When the peppers are done, take off the skin and then pull into long strips. 

Scatter the onions over the bottom of the tart.  Add in all the roasted vegetables (including the peppers).  Scatter thyme leaves all over the vegetables.  Set the cherry tomatoes in the tart with the them cut side up. 

Dot all the vegetables with the cheese.  It was hard to get it all in there.  With a whisk, mix together the eggs and cream.  Slowly pour into the tart.  If it can't all get in there, don't worry, it will be ok. 

I set this on a covered cookie sheet and baked for about 35-45 minutes.  Serve warm. 

Eggplant
Eggplants

Half an eggplant for each serving.  This serves 4.  You can easily double, triple, etc.

2 large eggplants cut in half

olive oil and thyme

pomegranate seeds

1 tsp za'tar (or just a mixture of herbs of your choice)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

kosher salt

Set the oven to 350.  Mark the eggplants with a knife creating a diamond-shape pattern but not cutting all the way through.  Douse in olive oil.  I used a brush.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and thyme.  Roast for about 45 minutes.  Continue to check on the eggplants and put on more olive oil if necessary.  I did it two more times.  When it is done, cool completely.

Mix together the buttermilk and yogurt.  Pour over the eggplants, then sprinkle the pomegranates seeds over the top and then sprinkle with salt and za'taar.  Serve.

Lentil
Lentils  Servess 4

1 cup French lentils

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. coriander

olive oil

1 medium onion roughly chopped

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 cups baby spinach ( one cup cooked, one cup raw )

3 tbsp. chopped cilantro

3 tbsp. chopped mint

juice of one lemon

Cook the lentils in boiling water with the bay leaves for about 20-30 minutes.  Drain and set aside. 

In a small frying pan dry-roast the cumin and coriander to release the aromas.  About 2 minutes.

In another frying pan, coat with olive oil and then fry up the onions until golden and very soft.  Now add the spices into this mixture.  Then add this to the lentils.  I found that I needed a little bit more spice for my taste so I just made some more. 

Once this is cool, add in the yogurt, spinach, herbs (cilantro and mint), lemon juice and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper for taste. 

I put this on small puff pastry rounds to serve.  Not necessary.  The lentils are excellent.  They'd be great just rolled up in a pita.