Friday, January 22, 2021

Revisiting Ottolenghi's Simple

 January 13, 2021


I've been off work the past couple of weeks while Cindy's been hard at it, so I put Wednesday aside to make a big ol' Ottolenghi feast. The centrepiece was this old favourite - quinoa salad with Persian dried limes - but I wanted to fill it out with a couple of new dishes from Simple. We chose a couple of nice, easy veggie sides - the kind of dishes that need company and suit a big, fancy feast.


First up: roasted asparagus with almonds, capers and dill. This relies on butter-fried almond slivers and the crispy capers to punch up some straightforward roasted asparagus spears. It's an effective combo though, with the capers' acidity cutting through the buttery richness of the nuts and the earthy asparagus. It's super easy - you can get the almonds and capers ready while the asparagus is roasting.


Our other side was roasted beetroot with yoghurt and preserved lemon, which had the added bonus of making use of some preserved lemon a kind friend had given us. This one takes a bit longer, with our beets taking a full hour to roast to tenderness. The dill and preserved lemon give this some strong flavours, but they worked really well with the more subdued quinoa salad.

The whole meal took a while to put together and used up all of our saucepans twice over, but there's nothing tricky here - it just needs you to be a bit organised timing-wise. And the pay-off was phenomenal!

Roasted asparagus with almonds, capers and dill
(from Yotam Ottolenghi's Simple)

600g asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
3 tablespoons olive oil
30g butter
20g flaked almonds
30g capers
10g dill, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. 

Mix the asparagus with a tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper and lay out on a baking tray. Roast for about 10 minutes, until it has softened and started to brown up in a few places. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat and throw the almonds in once it has melted. Fry the slivers, stirring constantly, until they've gone crunchy and golden brown. Pour the almond and butter mix over the asparagus. 

Fry the capers in the rest of the olive oil over high heat for a couple of minutes - you want them to go a bit crispy if you can (it helps to pat them dry before you pop them in the hot oil). Scatter the fried capers on top of the asparagus along with the dill. 

Roasted beetroot with yoghurt & preserved lemon
(from Yotam Ottolenghi's Simple)

1kg beetroot, scrubbed but skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 red onion
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
15g dill, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tahini
150g Greek yoghurt
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Wrap each of the beets in foil and roast for 30-60 minutes - you want a skewer to go through easily - ours took a full hour. Unwrap them and let them cool a bit before peeling and cutting into 1/2 cm slices. 

Heat the olive oil in a small plan and fry the red onion with the cumin seeds for 2-3 minutes, until the onion has softened and the seeds have started to pop (Ottolenghi leaves the onion raw, but fried is better I reckon). Pour the oil, onion and cumin seed mix over the beets and add the preserved lemon, lemon juice, most of the dill, salt and pepper. Mix together well and transfer to a serving platter.

Stir the tahini and yoghurt together and then dollop it on top of the beetroot in a few places, mixing gently and topping with the leftover dill.

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