ottolenghi’s leek fritters + ‘plenty’ reviewed
Up till a couple of years ago meals in our household were largely carnivorous affairs with vegetables taking the form of hastily-thrown together salads and unimaginative steamed or roasted sides. Ottolenghi single-handedly changed all that through their first cookbook, which apart from pages upon pages of luscious desserts and tantalising grilled meats, had some incredible vegetarian recipes like their roasted aubergine with saffron yoghurt and chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic, both of which have become staples in our home.
In Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book ‘Plenty’, vegetables take centre stage – brassicas baked under golden puff pastry lids, beans in asian-inspired salads and pulses in vibrant salads. Most of the recipes featured within its smooth gold-embossed white covers are substantial enough to serve as a main course, and after trying out quite a few, I can attest that they are just as satisfying as many a meaty offering. The Caramelised Garlic Tart full of sweet garlic and salty, creamy goat’s cheese was heavenly, and the Courgette Pasta Salad was packed with fresh, lively flavours. My favourite so far has been the Baked Eggs with Yoghurt and Chilli because aside from being ridiculously easy to make, it is just about the best breakfast out there.
I really haven’t got a bad word to say about this book – all the recipes are well written and easy to follow, and most importantly, come out great. Everything I’ve tasted has actually exceeded my expectations and reinforced to me that vegetables should be celebrated more at the dining table, rather than being relegated to a lowly side act. I was especially surprised by these tasty fritters full of caramelised leeks and shallots that I made earlier this week (to mark National Vegetarian Week) – lightly crisp on the outside and fluffy within, they were delicious served warm with the cooling yoghurt sauce and if possible even better the next day eaten cold, straight out of the fridge! This recipe is a must-try, and once you’ve made them go out and buy ‘Plenty’ to give the rest a whirl (trust me, your bookshelf would be bare without it).
3 leeks, 450g (1 lb) total trimmed weight
5 shallots, finely chopped
150ml (2/3 cup) olive oil
1 red chilli, seeded and sliced
25g (1 oz) parsley, finely chopped
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tbsp baking powder
120g self-raising flour
55g (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
150ml (2/3 cup) milk
120ml (1/2 cup) greek yoghurt
120ml (1/2 cup) soured cream
30g coriander leaves, chopped
20g parsley leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
First make your sauce. Blitz all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor or blender until pale green. Set aside for later.
Slice the leeks into 2cm (3/4 inch) thick pieces, then rinse and drain in a colander. Pour half the olive oil in a medium pan and cook the shallots and leeks on a medium heat for 15 minutes, or until they have softened. Place the mixture in a large bowl, add the chilli, parsley, spices, sugar and salt, then leave to cool.
Whisk the egg white to soft peaks in a medium bowl, then gently fold into the cooled leek mixture.
In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, egg, milk and butter to form a batter. Spoon in the vegetable mixture and gently stir to combine.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan on a medium flame. Once hot spoon in half the batter to form four large fritters. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Remove, drain on kitchen towels and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve the fritters warm with the sauce and a side of rocket (or your preferred salad leaves). Any leftover fritters will be delicious eaten cold the next day.