Wednesday, October 31, 2018

More Simple

October 14, 2018

We had a friend over for a Sunday dinner and turned again to Simple for inspiration. We worked through the pasta section looking for ideas, settling on this chickpea and za'atar pasta as our centrepiece. It's definitely simple - easily put together and requiring no more than about 20 minutes on the stove. You need za'atar of course, but by Yotam's standards that's basically a pantry ingredient. Our dish didn't turn out quite as well as we'd hoped. It proved beyond me to get the chickpeas to crisp up at all. It was still pretty tasty, but I was a little bit disappointed - one to try again perhaps. Luckily, the black garlic Brussels sprouts we made on the side were as good as we remembered them - a must make dish.

The dessert was also a huge success - Cindy made the sumac-roasted strawberries with yoghurt cream. It was utterly wonderful, although in keeping with Ottolenghi's approach to simple cookery it involves straining yoghurt through muslin. Simple as heck Yotam, but absolutely worth it.

For all my teasing, I'm really enjoying cooking out of Simple. The recipes are simple only in relation to Ottolenghi's other recipes, but that at least makes them manageable - you could even make this pasta on a weeknight!

Orecchiette with chickpeas and za'atar
(from Yotam Ottolenghi's Simple)

45ml olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
10g thyme leaves, stems removed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 400g tins of chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon brown sugar
400ml mock chicken stock
250g orecchiette pasta
50g baby spinach leaves
15g parsley, roughly chopped
1-2 teaspoons of za'atar
1/4 cup capers
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and throw in the onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes until the onion softens and starts to brown.

Reduce the heat and add in the chickpeas and sugar. Fry for 8 minutes or so, trying to get the chickpeas to brown and get crispy (we failed). Add the stock and lemon juice and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta as per the instructions. Drain and stir the pasta, capers and spinach leaves through the sauce. Serve, sprinkled with za'atar.


  1. Honestly, I have such a hard time getting chickpeas to go crispy, especially in a pan. My best success has been roasting them. But as soon as you add them to anything, they instantly go soft again.

    1. That's reassuring, Susan - we've never been able to get it right! On twitter, someone recommended giving the chickpeas a very thorough drying (e.g. with a paper towel) to help with crisping.

    2. I normally give them a pat down with some paper towel, but sounds like next time they will each be getting individual dry offs!