The Recipes Ottolenghi Includes in Every Book (& How He Tweaks Them)

July  1, 2016

That ingredient you buy every single time you go to the market? The dish you'd happily eat five days in a row, tweaking just slightly each time? It's not just you! Even Yotam Ottolenghi, one of the most-celebrated contemporary cookbook writers, has his fallbacks: Eggplant, butternut squash, and figs, burnt, roasted, and turned into salad.

These ingredients and their respective dishes appear time and time again over the course of his five books (which we mapped out for you earlier this week).

The consistency suggests that these ingredients and cooking techniques are some of Ottolenghi's standbys—his cache of reliable and versatile MVPs—and the variations (sometimes subtle!) show his changing fixations and the progression of the books over time. As Ottolenghi himself has said of roasted squash and eggplant, "any new player has to have very good credentials to gain the respect of the old-timers and get a look-in on the menu."

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Take a look at how some of Ottolenghi's signature dishes have evolved over the course of his books (and try to figure out how the new kids have earned their cred):

Roasted becomes burnt becomes South Asian becomes smoked (and a single component of a very involved dish).

Roasted squash goes from accessory to centerpiece and back again.

Raw and simple becomes complicated, then takes on a cooked component, then gets caramelized (ahh!), and finally, ceases to exist.

What's your signature, ever-evolving dish? Tell us in the comments below!

Graphics by Tim McSweeney

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AS
  • Nancy
  • Nomnomnom
  • healthierkitchen
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


AS July 1, 2016
I'm a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi. I own and have cooked many dishes from Nopi, Jerusalem, and Plenty (I just bought plenty more, which seems pretty good as well). However, I must admit that while he does a brilliant job getting flavors of freshness and brightness, there's something about a lot of his recipes that fall a little flat on my palette. I think i've pinned it on a distinct lack of savoriness? (i'm prett liberal with the salt so that's not really the issue)

I'm a big fan of east asian recipes that have a lot of umami in them and I find that quality is somewhat lacking in ottolenghi's recipes (i'm also a vegetarian, so this isn't just a "no meat" complaint). Has anybody else experienced something similar? How do you adjust? Should i be sprinkling a little nutritional yeast/marmite/msg/liquid aminos into his recipes?
Nancy July 1, 2016
AS - interesting point. Would you please name or link to one or two of his recipes where you want more savoriness? That might give us more to work with on suggestions...
AS July 1, 2016
So, for example, i made the Roasted Eggplant with Black Garlic, Pine Nuts, and Basil ( from Nopi twice and I just couldn't get into it. I was also underwhelmed by his Baked eggs with yogurt and chili from plenty (

His hummus recipe ( also didn't really do it for me until i started making it with Solomonov's' tahini sauce (

The Urad Dal Puree with Hot and Sour Eggplant ( also were a little underwhelming, as were the chickpea patties with coconut curry paste ( (I liked the patty because they tasted like a spicy falafel, but again, the coconut was meh.

Similar to my complaints with the coconut I found the Celeriac purée with spiced cauliflower and quail’s eggs: to taste kind of weird as the raw cauliflower was really offputting to me.
Nomnomnom July 2, 2016
AS, for what it's worth, I have the same experience. (And I'm also vegetarian.) I tend to think his recipes lack acid and end up squeezing lemon over. Some simply are not balanced. But as of now I've just stopped making recipes from his books. The pictures are nice though.
healthierkitchen August 3, 2016
AS, I do happen to be a fan of Ottolenghi's recipes, or at least the ones I've tried, but Solomonov's hummus, and how he makes the tahina sauce first, is a game changer. My daughter and I did a side by side comparison of the two recipes back in January and while both were good tasting, the consistency of the Zahav hummus was fantastic and remained so for the few days we kept it refrigerated. Ottolenghi's was good the first day, but didn't hold well; it got much too dense.