Tuesday 7 July 2009


As sad as it may sound, salads really do excite me. When made properly they ooze creativity and can be as saintly or sinful as you like. Salads are vastly underrated and whilst the sun is shining its little heart out during these summer months, Browny and I have decided to embrace the noble salad for what its worth.

Whether a salad is hot or cold, meaty or fishy, full of grains or pulses, veg or fruit, spicy or cooling, for me, the combination of freshness, lightness, differing flavours and textures can only be a good thing. Plus if you're lucky, if you delve the serving tongs into the bottom of the salad bowl, token goodies will always come out of hiding.

It was a glorious sunny Friday lunchtime when I was introduced into the world of Ottolengi. How on earth had I a) not heard of this venture before and b) why hadn’t I feasted my taste buds on their fantastic grub until now!

As I walked into Ottolenghi on Motcombe Street in Belgravia my eyes were on stalks as I took in all the marvels in front of me, not to mention the incredible but wicked looking pastries, bakes and meringues. On this occasion I was so absorbed by the food I ordered a majority of the salad selection in front of me, plus a delightful and tasty salmon kebab, the bill was embarrassingly large, especially owing to the fact that I wasn’t paying.

I craved more Ottolenghi action and wasted no time in ordering their superb cook book. We were in for a treat. With my new book in hand I trawled Sainsbury’s to find all the vital ingredients... this was only 60% successful and was tipped off by Helen that the recipes must be followed word for word. To accompany two delicious rainbow trout I decided a selection of salads would work nicely. Once I had finally decided which salads to prepare I set to work on supper.

Now, its fair to say that I am somewhat of a nerd when it comes to a tidy kitchen and spotless work surfaces. If I have finished using a knife.. I wash it up. If I have chopped up an onion, I put the remnants and its skins straight into the bin.. But not on this occasion. The Ottolengi recipes require so many processes and ingredients to create the tasty wonders, my kitchen looked like a child’s playroom in no time. But it was so worth it. Here is the evidence:

Scorched brocolli

Charred brocolli with chilli and garlic

Scorched broccoli with nuts, garlic and chilli

Fennel pomegranite and goats cheese salad 2

Pomegranate, fennel and goats cheese salad

Bulgar wheat with orange zest and tomato

Bulgar wheat with orange zest and tomato

Aubergine salad

Aubergine salad with pomegranate, spinach and saffron yoghurt


Baked trout with lemon and herbs

I urge everyone to go out a buy this beauty. It’s exciting, different, creative and believe or not, healthy!


Manggy said...

I would, I would buy it, if they actually imported that book here! :( Ebury wasn't that into our market a year or two ago I guess :(

Hollow Legs said...

That book has been on my list for a while now. I must have it!

Helen said...

I am so glad you loved that book but then it was a no brainer after you have actually visited the restaurant - I am so jealous! Those pomegranate dishes are so pretty too. I want to try that goats cheese one asap. You must try the burnt aubergine pomegranate molasses dip - it is a revelation! ooh, maybe you could do the aubergines in cassius and then put them in!! (please, for me?!)

Browners said...

@Manggy - You'll love this book. There must be a way of getting it to you... Where there's a will and all that!

@Lizzie - It's salad-tastic. You'll love it.

@Helen - Thanks so much for your advice. Cowie is now obsessed with it and we are eating some amazing food as a result. I loved his Christmas supplement with the Observer last year.

We will do burnt aubergine in Cassius with pomegranate molasses just for you. Watch this space.

Laissez Fare said...

The Ottolenghi cookbook is by far the best cookbook we have had so far, and the most practical too. Their recipes are generally amazing and we have had some wonderful meals at home with ourselves and with friends. These guys are geniuses and a breath of fresh air. They deserve their success.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

The Motcomb Street shop is amazing, isn't it? I go there every time I go to Rococo, opposite. ;-)

Glad you're having fun with the recipe book!

Browners said...

@Laissez Faire - I agree. I can't wait to actually eat in one of their gaffs.

@Aforkfulofspaghetti - The recipe book is brilliant. So detailed. We're going to have a fun summer of different tastes.


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