Full of flavour
We chat with Ottolenghi and co-author Ixta Belfrage about their latest mouth-watering cookbook, Flavour from Penguin Random House.
What makes Flavour so special?
Flavour is a celebration of wonderful, versatile vegetables, and how to build flavour with them. But it is not only a collection of beautiful recipes, but an approachable deep dive (and yes, we realise those words don’t usually go together) into how to create flavour bombs, and crucially why they work. We’ve done this by highlighting the processes that enhance vegetables, what you can pair them with to draw out distinct qualities and the sheer depth of flavour that some vegetables naturally possess that allows them to play starring roles.
What are the most versatile and adaptable vegetables?
All vegetables are versatile and adaptable, and can be enjoyed raw, cooked and in all shapes and forms. In Flavour a very good example of this is kohlrabi. Most people have only ever eaten kohlrabi raw, which we love (see our Kohlrabi ‘noodle’ salad) but we also love it cooked. There are three recipes in Flavour which ask you to roast kohlrabi (Potato and gochujang baked eggs, barley, tomato and watercress stew and Berbere ratatouille). Roasting the vegetable turns it into an irresistibly sweet and soft version of itself.
How has your approach to cooking vegetables changed since Plenty ?
It’s not so much that the approach has changed, but that there are now new influences in the Test Kitchen in the form of Ixta – who brings with her knowledge of Brazilian and Mexican cuisine and ingredients and Noor – who brings with her a natural flair for cooking the food of her native Bahrain as well as the Middle East.
What are your favourite dishes in the book?
Our favourite dishes in the book change every time we look at it – but our core favourites are the Miso butter onions, the Spicy mushroom lasagne, the Sweet and sour brussel sprouts with chestnuts and grapes and the Turnip Cake.
What are your staple ingredients, always to be found in your fridge / pantry?
It’s a fairly long list, but we couldn’t live without olive oil, tomato paste, dried chillies, tahini, soy sauce, za’atar, miso, parmesan, anchovies, lemons and garlic.