Page turners: Yotam Ottolenghi's favourite recipes from his first book (2024)

My first cookbook is being reissued next week, with a shiny new red cover, a few design updates and new recipe introductions. Looking back on the original, published eight years ago, it feels like only yesterday that Sami Tamimi and I spent every Friday night serving up a feast for friends to test the dishes for the book.

At the same time, it also feels like a lifetime ago. The team has grown and my approach to recipe writing has become more precise. Back then, the cliche that ignorance is bliss held very true: doing something for the first time, with nothing to compare it against, you just get on with it. So long as a recipe made sense and our readers could make a delicious meal by following it, that was that. Job done: let’s eat! Eight years down the line, I can now find myself wondering for far too long whether I should be writing “flaked” or “flaky” sea salt in an ingredients list. Such level of detail matters more to me than to some readers, true, but it’s the way I’ve evolved.

Looking back on such ignorance (though I prefer to think of it as innocence), I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s also reassuring to see how much the things that were important to Sami and me in 2008 have stayed the same. Here are four recipes I was excited to return to: favourites of mine, and of our readers, too. We’re still putting our heart and soul into the same thing: making food that we love to eat and that, we hope, makes people happy.

French beans and mangetout with hazelnut and orange

Readers tell us that this is the salad they go back to time and again, and it’s easy to see why: it’s totally hassle-free. Everything can be prepared well in advance and it’s simple to size up for a crowd. It looks lovely, too – every table needs a bit of green on it, after all. Serves six.

400g french beans
400g mangetout
70g unskinned hazelnuts
1 orange
20g chives, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp hazelnut oil
Flaky sea salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. With a small, sharp knife, trim the stalk ends off the beans and mangetout, keeping the two separate. Bring a large saucepan of unsalted water to a boil – you need lots of space for the beans, because that’s crucial for preserving their colour. Blanch the beans for four minutes, then drain into a colander and run under the cold tap until cold. Leave to drain and dry. Repeat with the mangetout, but blanch them for only a minute.

While the beans are cooking, scatter the hazelnuts over a baking tray and roast in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Leave until cool enough to handle, then rub them in a clean tea-towel to remove most of the skins and roughly chop; leave some whole or whole-ish, if you like.

With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in strips, taking care to avoid the bitter pith. Cut each piece of zest into very thin strips (or, if you have a citrus zester, do the whole job with that).

To assemble the dish, mix all the ingredients in a bowl, toss gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning with some flaky sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. Serve at roomtemperature.

Seafood, fennel and lime salad

Fennel, herbs and seafood go together like sun, sea and sandcastles. Serve as a starter or light lunch, with some fresh crusty bread to mop up all the juices, or as part of a mezze spread. You can make it a day ahead, up to the point the seafood is added to the bowl, should you be so inclined. Serves four.

2 small fennel bulbs
½ red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
10g dill leaves, roughly chopped
10g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 mild chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
60ml olive oil
Flaky sea salt
8 tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
350g baby squid, cleaned
1 tbsp sumac
10g coriander, roughly chopped
Pomegranate seeds, to garnish (optional)

Trim the bases and tops off the fennel bulbs, then slice the bulbs widthwise as thinly as you can (use a mandoline, if you have one). In alarge bowl, mix the fennel and red onion with the lime juice and zest, garlic, dill, parsley, chilli, two tablespoons of olive oil and half ateaspoon of salt.

Heat a heavy cast-iron pan (preferably a griddle) on a high flame. Meanwhile, mix the prawns and squid with the remaining oil and a pinch of salt. Once the pan is piping hot, grill the seafood in small batches, turning it after a minute, and cooking only until just done (roughly a minute more for the squid and two to three for the prawns). Transfer to a board and cut the squid into thick rings; leave the prawns whole or cut them in half.

Add the seafood to the salad bowl and toss. Serve immediately or put the salad in the fridge for up to 24hours. Just before serving, stir in the sumac and coriander, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Ascattering of pomegranate seeds makes for a beautiful garnish.

Plum, marzipan and cinnamonmuffins

Makes 10-12.

480g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch salt
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
280ml milk
110g unsalted butter, melted
120g marzipan
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the plum compote
700g ripe red plums, pitted and cut into quarters
60g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick

First make the compote. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put the plums in a shallow baking dish, toss with the sugar and add the cinnamon stick. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until the plums are soft and their skin is coming away from the flesh (the cooking time will vary a lot depending on the ripeness of the fruit). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and salt into abowl. Put the sugar and eggs in alarge mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the milk and butter, and whisk again to combine.

Grate the marzipan on the coarseside of a grater and add to thebatter with the orange zest. Stir in 80g of the compote (pulp and juices), and keep the rest for later.

Using a rubber spatula, gently foldthe flour mixture into the wet mix until just combined (there may be a few lumps and bits of flour in the mix, but don’t worry; it’s meant to be like that).

Line two muffin tins with paper cases and spoon in the cake mix all the way to the top. Bake for 25–30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, remove the muffins from the tins and leave on a wire rack until cold.

Just before serving, dust with alittle icing sugar and top with the reserved plum compote.

Roast chicken with sumac, za’atarand lemon

Page turners: Yotam Ottolenghi's favourite recipes from his first book (1)

This recipe is so popular, we should maybe have renamed the book Roast Chicken And Other Recipes. It’s super-simple, packed with flavour, and the marinade does all the work. It just needs rice, roast potatoes or pitta alongside, and perhaps a garlicky yoghurt or tahini sauce. Serves four.

1 large chicken, quartered
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
60ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
1½ tsp ground allspice (pimento)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced
200ml chicken stock (or water)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp za’atar
20g unsalted butter
50g pine nuts
20g parsley, roughly chopped

In a big bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a good grind of pepper, then leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the chicken skin side up in a big oven tray, pour in the marinade and sprinkle za’atar on top. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the bird is coloured and just cooked through.

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Meanwhile, melt the butter in asmall frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt, and cook over amoderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.

Transfer the hot chicken and onions to a platter, and scatter over the nuts, parsley and a drizzle of oil. If you like, sprinkle with more za’atar and sumac before serving.

The Ottolenghi Cookbook is reissued next week by Ebury at £27. To order a copy for £22.14, go to, or call 0330 333 6846.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Page turners: Yotam Ottolenghi's favourite recipes from his first book (2024)


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