As you may know, I am a huge fan of Yottam Ottolenghi. His books are a constant source of inspiration for me, and I frequently daydream about having lunch at one of his London restaurants.
My first introduction to Ottolenghi was unusual. On a visit to Maine a couple of years ago, my Aunt + Uncle took me to this fabulous book store in Portland, Maine that sold just cookbooks. Just cookbooks. Dangerous.
Out of the mounds and mounds of gorgeous cookbooks, I could not tear myself away from this one vegetarian focused book with an attractive pillow-like white cover. The recipes were different. Unique. A wonderful combination of mediterranean + middle-eastern flavors. When I went to checkout, the cashier owned the book already and went on and on about what a great book it was. I couldn't wait to get home and make every single recipe.
I bought Ottolenghi's book Plenty before it was released in the US, not knowing what a hit it would end up being here. That also means my book is in grams and celcius, and although it is slightly inconvenient, I look it as a badge of honor for discovering this book before it's US debut.
After cooking my way through Plenty, I couldn't wait until I had the opportunity to eat at one of his London restaurants. This summer I had my chance, and it lived up to everything I had expected. I went to his restaurant in Notting Hill and order as many things that would fit onto one plate. I sat outside in the rain (because that was the only seat open) and I was in heaven. While I was there I was also able to pick up a signed copy of his original book, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook which features the recipes made at his restaurants, and it too has become a staple in my kitchen.
As you can imagine I had high hopes for his new book Jerusalem which he wrote with partner Sami Tamini. Jerusalem has the same allure as Plenty, but a little more culture, a little more curiosity, and the inclusion of meat and seafood. It really opens up a whole new world of flavors for those, like myself, who are fairly unfamiliar with the variety of dishes that Jerusalem has to offer. Ottolenghi has a real grasp on the food of his culture. This book is an eye-opener, and will absolutely will be a favorite on my cookbook shelf.
I already have about 15 recipes earmarked, but this one right here I kept going back to. I just love tahini but I never thought to put it over roasted vegetables. So simple, so perfect. The original recipe called for butternut squash, but I had two sweet potatoes lying around that I wanted to use and they worked into this recipe beautifully. This is one I will be making over and over again.
roasted sweet potatoes red onions + pine nuts with tahini
adapted from Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi + Sami Tamimi
In the book, this recipe is made with butternut squash instead of sweet potato. I choose to use sweet potato because I had a lot left over from my farm share, but I am sure that the butternut squash or any squash for that matter would be just as wonderful. Also, the original recipe calls for the spice: za'atar, and after searching high and low, I looked up some of the ingredient and decided that gomasio (a sesame seed + salt blend) and dried thyme would be a fine substitute.
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
2 red onions, cut into wedges
a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil (or another high heat oil)
for the garnish:
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds or gomasio
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of coarse chopped flat leaf parsley
for the tahini:
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2-4 tablespoons of water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 garlic clove, crushed
optional: some arugula or spinach to serve over
- Pre-heat the oven to 475º
- On a parchment lined baking sheet, lay out the sweet potato and red onion. Drizzle with the oil, and season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.
- Bake them for 30-40 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Keep an eye on the onions, since they might cook slightly faster. If they are ready sooner than the potato, remove the onions and allow the potato to cook until done.
- While the potatoes and onions are baking, make the tahini. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the tahini, adding as much water is necessary until you reach the consistence you like. I like it a little loose so that it easily drizzles over the vegetables.
- Toast the pine nuts. Drizzle a little oil in a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts along with a dash of salt and cook for about two minutes, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer them to a small bowl so that they do not continue to cook.
- To serve, spread the vegetables out on a serving platter over a bed of greens (arugula, etc - if you choose), and then drizzle the tahini on top. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top followed by the sesame seeds, or gomasio, the thyme, and the parsley.