SHELF LOVE

By Cuisine2 Minutes
December 20, 2021By Cuisine

YOTAM OTTOLENGHI & NOOR MURAD, PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, $55

It’s thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi that sumac and rose harissa are now among my pantry staples, so I feel a sense of ‘welcome to the club’ smugness with this book (I know, smugness is unbecoming, but there you have it). It’s a lockdown project that comes from a place of using up what you have, making do with odds and ends from the back of the pantry or the shameful dark reaches of the fridge to save an unnecessary trip to the shops.

Previous Ottolenghi books have introduced some members of his crew, but now’s the time for the whole backing band to step into the spotlight and here’s our backstage pass to the Ottolenghi test kitchen. These are the people who cook and test, experiment and taste, creating the dishes with that unmistakable Ottolenghi style (and I’m willing to bet their staff lunches are a cut above!). They are an eclectic bunch and in their hands you’ll be whipping a forgotten packet of oats into a deliciously savoury bowl of gingery, garlic porridge and the last of the frozen spinach into a chermoula- slathered and feta-studded potato pie. I cheerfully admit I’m a fan, but I do recognise that for some the long lists of ingredients might be overwhelming. But the dishes are bright, fresh and punchy, exciting but not too try-hard, healthy without making a thing of it. Once taken by this style, you’ll be breezily dropping a handful of dried black limes into your casseroles or nonchalantly peppering your menus with tahini, Aleppo chillies and barberries. In my imagination the Ottolenghi test kitchen is a Willy Wonka-esque playground of possibilities, with creativity and sheer deliciousness bursting out the door, and I’m dying to be ushered in. TRACY WHITMEY