Israeli-born chef Yotam Ottolenghi is not a vegetarian, but he’s made a career out of creating meat-free dishes that don’t sacrifice flavor. His new book Plenty offers a collection of vegetable-centric recipes, but with toppings of fried duck eggs and melted Fontina cheese to remind you this is no vegan or raw foods cookbook.
The chef opened his own Ottolenghi deli in London in 2002, which now has four locations throughout the city. He’s also well-known for his column in the Guardian‘s Weekend magazine, aptly titled “The New Vegetarian” — despite the fact that neither the chef nor his deli is actually vegetarian.
But as Ottolenghi explains in his introduction to Plenty, he and his restaurants have become famous for their innovative, delicious takes on vegetables, grains and salads.
Quite simply, Ottolenghi cooks what he likes to eat, and often that means limiting meat and fish in favor of flavorful side dishes.
He reinvents classics like Paella, made hearty with fava beans, grilled artichokes and bell peppers, and his Ratatouille earns legs from butternut squash and parsnips. Even something as simple as Sweet Potato Fries, now an expected accompaniment to any good burger, get a makeover with a lemongrass creme fraiche dipping sauce.
Other eye-catching dishes include the Caramelized Garlic Tart, made with puff pastry and two types of goat cheese, and Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce, consisting of halved, roasted eggplants topped with the rich, creamy sauce along with pomegranate seeds and za’atar.
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate these complex and inventive recipes, which still pack a major punch (we’re dying to try the Yogurt Flatbreads with Barley and Mushrooms). Ottolenghi would be the first to admit plenty of them would pair well with a barbecued lamb chop.