The colour of Winter is green, I have decided, sitting here at the desk, looking out to the park across the road. Spring is pink, Summer blue, and Autumn is golden, but Winter is green. The flurry of colour – the bougainvillea, nasturtiums, violets, plumbago, marigolds, viola – lifts the garden, extends its palette, but the real colour of Winter is green.
In the kitchen, the winter colours are green and yellow – the gorgeous range of green vegetables including spinach, chards and other leafy greens, the last of the zucchini, winter melons, fennel, and the yellow of pumpkins, corns, lentils, cheeses baked to glorious colours and crispness, and the pasta that becomes more frequent.
We are lucky (was it planned, I wonder) that as we work our way through Plenty More, Ottolenghi’s third cookbook in his collection of 6 + 1 books (one to be released later this year), the recipes have followed the seasons. We began cooking early in the year, with the glorious salads, and as the chapters have progressed the recipes have suited the seasons. The chapters are not organised that way, but perhaps the cooking methods also suit the months and the seasons. Serendipitous.
We are now at the half way point of cooking through Plenty More. Although we have loved most recipes, “complexity” and “dimension” are the buzz-words, and we have found ourselves pining for a little Elizabeth David simplicity. But there are a couple of more relaxed chapters at this point, and this beautiful Grilled chapter is stunning and wonderful.
I first came across grilled lettuce when I worked in France – families threw different lettuce greens on the grill freely, much to my amazement – and later, sharing a house with a Hong Kong Chinese lady, we grilled, steamed and simmered lettuce greens without a second thought. So Ottolenghi’s grilled lettuce recipes were no surprise. His grilled Ziti pasta dish, I must admit that I baked it, partly because this is more traditional, and partly because I generally ignore our poorly functioning stove grill as we mostly grill on the BBQ or on a stove top ridged pan. The crispy pasta bits of this dish are divine. But, for another dish, it was the first time that we grilled zucchini in the way that we usually grill eggplants – until burnt and blackened on the outside then the flesh removed and pureed – and it was a genuine surprise and a fabulous discovery.
We do make substitutions in recipes occasionally, for reasons of availability or seasonality. One of our regular subs is using besan flour instead of eggs for binding as we do not cook with eggs. In the zucchini dish, this was actually magnificent. In another recipe we used Lauki Melon instead of “marrow” which has no meaning in Australia. It was an inspired substitution, lifting a humble vegetable to a different level.
Enjoy this chapter, it is a beauty. The standout dishes are Zucchini and Fennel with Saffron Crumbs, Butternut Tataki and Udon Noodles, Courgette Baba Ganoush, and the Miso-Tamarind Mayonnaise.
Some of our write-ups on the recipes have not been published yet. The links will be added when they are published.
noodles and pasta
this is a living post and will be updated as more of the recipes are published. most of ottolenghi recipes are online, if you are looking for them. yotham’s column in the guardian is a good place to start.