Glorious mess: Yotam Ottolenghi's comfort food recipes | Food (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

Our favourite comfort foods tend not to be the most attractive platefuls, but that's not the point: it's the eating that's important with these dishes

Yotam Ottolenghi


Fri 18 Apr 2014 22.00 CEST

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When I hashed up my polenta hash, and thentweeted a picture of the scorched result, I didn't anticipate its reappearance on a Guardian food blog in which Marina O'Loughlin examines our fascination with culinary car crashes. "A case of schadenfreude meets freakshow," was one of her characteristically insightful conclusions.

Although my second hash was less of a mash (sorry), it's still not an obviously attractive dish, but then the most comforting and hit-the-spot food often isn't. Many of the meals in my top 10 do not make for a pretty picture: long-braised courgettes stuffed with rice; dumplings floating in broth; brown lentils and rice; mashed chickpeas with fried chunks of pitta; and most soups, too, for that matter.

As with our most comfortable clothes – those saved for domestic use only – sometimes the eye needs to look aside instead of always stealing the first bite. And at least where food is concerned, you can always count on the humble egg – the food photographer's all-time favourite – to save the day.

Polenta 'hash' with fried egg and beef gravy

This isn't chopped or grated, so it's only a hash in the sense that it is abit like hash browns. And just like the real thing, it is an irresistible way to start your day. Serves four.

500ml unsalted beef stock
3 tbsp sweet wine (or port)
120g quick-cook polenta
100ml whole milk
Salt and black pepper
30g parmesan, finely grated
15g basil, thinly sliced
5g tarragon, roughly chopped
90ml olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (120gnet)
1 tsp tomato paste
1 red chilli, de-seeded and julienned
1 large tomato, sliced into 2mm thick rounds (140g net)
4 eggs

To make the gravy, pour the stock and wine into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, until the gravy has thickened and there's only about 100ml of liquid left in the pan.

Meanwhile, put the polenta in amedium saucepan with the milk, 300ml water, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Cook on a medium-high heat for four to five minutes, stirring constantly, until the polenta is very thick but can still be stirred. Stir in the parmesan and herbs, then pour out on to a 20cm-square tray lined with greaseproof paper. Use apalette knife to spread out the mixture so it's an even 1.5cm thick. Set aside to cool and firm up, then cut into four rough squares.

On a high flame, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, tomato paste, chilli and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Fry for three minutes, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften. Lower the heat to medium and use a spoon to push the onion into four piles, each measuring about 8cm across. Top each pile with two slices of tomato, pour half a tablespoon of oil over each pile and press down with aspatula. Fry for two minutes more, then lay a square of polenta on top of each pile. Press down again, fry for three minutes, until the onion begins to caramelise and char, then carefully turn over each pile; this may be a little messy, because the polenta pieces can break, but that's nothing to worry about. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and continue frying for three minutes, until the bottom of the polenta is crisp and brown. Set aside somewhere warm while you fry the eggs in the remaining oil.

When ready to serve, warm the gravy. Put a polenta hash on each plate, top with a fried egg, spoon over some gravy and serve at once.

Sausage and onion bake

I haven't topped this with an egg, butyou may well want to – it wouldn't go amiss. Serves four.

70ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium fennel, trimmed and cut lengthways into 0.5cm slices
150ml sweet white vermouth
1 tsp plain flour
20g chopped parsley leaves
Salt and black pepper
300g smoked bacon rashers, cutinto 1cm cubes
6 pork sausages, cut on an angle into1.5cm slices
100g fresh bread, crusts removed and torn into rough chunks
90g parmesan, roughly grated
6 medium tomatoes, sliced widthways into 2mm rounds

Pour two tablespoons of oil into alarge sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the onion and fennel, andfry for six minutes, until they start tosoften and colour. Add the vermouth, turn the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the flour and 150ml water, return the temperature to high and cook, uncovered, for two minutes more. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and a generous grind of black pepper, then transfer to a bowl andset aside.

Wipe down the pan and return to a high heat. Add the bacon, sausage and a tablespoon of the oil, and fry for 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time so that the meat gets crisp and coloured all over. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the bread, parmesan and aquarter-teaspoon of salt in the large bowl of a food processor. Blitz to fine breadcrumbs, add the remaining tablespoon and a half of oil, and pulse to combine.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Spread half the onion and fennel mix over the base of a23cm-square ovenproof dish with roughly 7cm-high sides (or similar). Spoon half the sausage and bacon mix evenly on top, and follow that with a layer of half of the tomatoes. Sprinkle over half the breadcrumbs and press everything down with your hands. Repeat with another layer each of onion, meat and tomato, press down again and finish with the remaining breadcrumbs (don't press down this top layer).

Bake for 35 minutes, until it isbubbling and the breadcrumbs aregolden-brown. Remove and leave to rest for five minutes beforeserving.

Wet garlic and Saint George's mushrooms

Taking their name from the day they traditionally appear, Saint George's mushrooms have a strong taste and quite meaty texture. The season is short and Saint George's aren't cheap, so use whichever mushrooms you want. Wet garlic, which has not been hung up to dry, has a particularly creamy and sweet flavour. You can find it during its short season in many delis and butchers' or online. Regular dried garlic is a perfectly fine substitute. Serves four.

60g unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
2 heads wet garlic, tops cut off so the cloves are just exposed
2 pittas, split into two and broken into 3-4cm pieces
2 tsp za'atar, plus extra to garnish
500g Saint George's mushrooms, brushed clean (and sliced, if large)
2 tbsp fresh oregano, roughly chopped
5g mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
120g Greek yoghurt
4 eggs, gently poached

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put half the butter, two tablespoons of oil and half ateaspoon of salt in a large, ovenproof frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cut-side up, and baste with the butter and oil until hot. Transfer to the oven for 10 minutes, then remove and liberally baste the garlic again. Add the pitta to the pan, stir and return to the oven. Cook for 20 minutes more, basting the garlic and stirring the pitta a couple of times, so they cook evenly. Remove the garlic and set aside. Sprinkle the za'atar over the bread, toss and transfer to aplate lined with kitchen paper.

Once the garlic is cool, gently remove the skin to release the cloves, keeping them as whole as possible.

While the garlic is in the oven the second time, take another frying pan and add the remaining butter and oil. Heat, add the mushrooms, aquarter-teaspoon of salt and agenerous grind of black pepper. Cook on a medium to high heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the mushrooms are soft and all of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the bread, garlic, oregano, mint and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and place on individual plates. Spoon a dollop of yoghurt over each mushroom pile and top with a warm poached egg. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle on a pinch of za'atar and serve warm.

• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Follow Yotam on Twitter.


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Glorious mess: Yotam Ottolenghi's comfort food recipes | Food (2024)


What food is Ottolenghi? ›

From this, Ottolenghi has developed a style of food which is rooted in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean traditions, but which also draws in diverse influences and ingredients from around the world.

Who is Otto Israeli chef? ›

Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi (born 14 December 1968) is an Israeli-born British chef, restaurateur, and food writer.

Does Ottolenghi eat meat? ›

If anything, Mr. Ottolenghi — tall and dapper, with salt-and-pepper hair, half-rim glasses and a penchant for pink-striped button-downs and black sneakers — should be a vegetarian pinup. But here's the rub: he eats meat. Apparently this is enough to discredit him in the eyes of the most devout abstainers.

What is the best Ottolenghi recipe? ›

Our Best Yotam Ottolenghi Recipes
  • Couscous, Cherry Tomato & Herb Salad. ...
  • Shakshuka. ...
  • Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale. ...
  • Honey & Yogurt Set Cheesecake. ...
  • Roasted Onion Salad with Arugula & Walnut Salsa. ...
  • Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake. ...
  • Sweet Potato Galettes. ...
  • Beet, Caraway & Goat Cheese Bread.

Is Ottolenghi a Michelin star? ›

So far, his books have sold 5 million copies, and Ottolenghi - although he has never even been awarded a Michelin star and without being considered a great chef - has successfully blended Israeli, Iranian, Turkish, French and, of course, Italian influences to create a genre that is (not overly) elegant, international, ...

Why is Ottolenghi so popular? ›

The real key to Ottolenghi's success lies back in 2002, when he opened the first Ottolenghi deli, in Notting Hill. "It was so not-London, in terms of being minimalist and white and open, with all the food on display," he recalls. "Many people said it felt like an Australian cafe."

How rich is Ottolenghi? ›

Key Financials
Net Worth£1,543,770.00£2,059,381.00
Total Current Assets£1,938,410.00£2,461,994.00
Total Current Liabilities£406,652.00£412,497.00

How did Ottolenghi become famous? ›

In 2002 the pair opened Ottolenghi, the famous delicatessen in Notting Hill, which became an instant hit for its use of unique flavour combinations and fantastic produce paired with Middle Eastern opulence.

Are Ottolenghi recipes difficult? ›

We cook a fair amount of Ottolenghi recipes at home, because he's one of the regular food writers in our regular newspaper (The Guardian). They are usually fairly simple recipes that focus on a good combination of flavours - even as home cooks, they're not nearly the most complicated things we make.

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