Elegant Braised Leeks with Feta, Almond, Raisin, Mint

Elegant Braised Leeks with Feta, Almond, Raisin, Mint
Elegant Braised Leeks with Feta, Almond, Raisin, Mint

Once again inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and his vibrant vegetable cooking, here I serve a braised leek dish instead of a salad to begin a recent dinner party. Its rich warm hues and luscious sweet-and-sour notes make it a fabulous Autumn starter. Or serve it with couscous for a stellar vegetarian main course. “I find the creaminess of leeks and their sweet oniony flavor very satisfying,” penned Ottolenghi.

Elegant Braised Leeks Recipe

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Thyme & Mint Roasted Eggplant with Arugula, Spinach, Tomato and Yogurt Sauce

Thyme Roasted Eggplant Salad

Thyme & Mint Roasted Eggplant

Japanese Eggplant, Arugula, Spinach, Tomato
Garlicky Yogurt Sauce, Arugula Flowers Garnish

While the presentation may look a bit familiar, the dish itself is unique.  It is inspired by one of my all time favorite chefs ~ Yotam Ottolenghi. His fans will recognize the Japanese eggplant presentation from the cover of his innovative vegetarian cookbook Plenty, where he adorns them with pomegranate arils and za’atar. Try Ottolenghi’s dish in autumn when pomegranates are in season, but try my version this summer with bursting ripe tomatoes and vibrant fresh greens.

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Inspired by Ottolenghi

rigatoni, roasted oyster mushroom, arugula, smoky chile walnuts, garlicky yogurt, feta

rigatoni, roasted oyster mushrooms, arugula
smoky chile walnuts, garlicky yogurt, feta

While Chef Yotam Ottolenghi makes his with conchiglie, peas, pine nuts, and basil – my dish with rigatoni, oyster mushrooms, walnuts, and arugula was totally inspired from the recipe in his fabulous cookbook Jerusalem. 

There are endless combinations of pasta, vegetables, and greens that can work with this garlicky yogurt sauce, feta, and smoky chile walnuts. With its pretty earth-tones, varying textures, and smoky flavors – this is one super-satisfying vegetarian meal.

inspired by ottolenghi recipe

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cold soba noodles with eggplant and mango

ottolenghi soba noodle with eggplant and mango

cold soba noodles with eggplant and mango
red onion, basil, cilantro
garlic chile lime dressing, peanut and lime garnish

This is Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s dish. He says, “It is the refreshing nature of the cold buckwheat noodles, the sweet sharpness of the dressing and the muskiness of the mango that make it so pleasing.” Hard to argue with that.

I made a few minor changes, including grilling the eggplant instead of frying in sunflower oil. And I added peanuts. The photo of this dish in his book Plenty looks like a mess, a delicious mess. Initially I plated it in the Taste With The Eyes style, but it looked too fussy, so I dumped the whole lot onto another platter, to mess it up, just like Ottolenghi. Not only did I think the noodle dish was spectacular, but I learned a lesson in plating too. Sometimes disheveled is better.

cold soba noodles with eggplant and mango recipe

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peas & pasta, garlicky yogurt sauce, smoky chile walnuts

peas & pasta, yogurt sauce, smoky walnuts
peas & pasta
pea sprouts, basil, feta
garlicky yogurt sauce, smoky chile walnuts

peas & pasta, garlicky yogurt sauce, smoky chile walnuts

Color, texture, aroma, flavor – it’s all here in this delightful pasta bowl. Beautiful green peas and fresh pea sprouts, summery herbaceous basil, toasty walnuts cooked with hot chile and smoky paprika, a garlicky creamy yogurt sauce, briny tangy feta. Nope, nothing’s missing.

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Griddled Chicken, Saffron Tangelo Syrup, Fennel Herb Salad

ottolenghi saffron chicken

Griddled Chicken Breast, Saffron Tangelo Wedges with Syrup
Fennel , Cilantro, Basil, Mint with Lime Vinaigrette

minneola tangelo image, tangelo recipe

Minneola Tangelo Branch of Citrus Salad Tree

Planted in 2008, my Citrus Salad Tree is now bursting with ripe fruits. This is a citrus tree that has 5 varieties of fruit grafted onto one trunk; Persian Lime, Valencia Orange, Honey Mandarin, Late Lane Navel Orange, and Minneola Tangelo. The juicy bell-shaped tangelo, also called a honeybell, has a very sweet flavor with a thin peel. The Minneola is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine, developed by the USDA in 1931.

I adapted this bright colorful chicken dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “saffron chicken & herb salad” featured in the cookbook, Jerusalem, to incorporate tangelos and limes from my tree. Ottolenghi blitzes his orange syrup into a paste, using a food processor. I thought the tangelo wedges added texture and color to the dish, so I left them intact. The sunny citrusy honey saffron flavors shine, either way…

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