In celebration of Ottolenghi Simple—the latest from the best-selling cookbook author and New York Times contributor—we've partnered with Ten Speed Press to bring you the dinner party menu of your dreams.
Ever since my friend Sara gifted me my first Ottolenghi cookbook, I’ve eagerly awaited each new release, returning to them again and again once they’ve found their home on my bookshelf. The celebrated London chef’s recipes are reliably appealing, incorporating fresh flavors and ingredients that are just different enough from my typical repertoire that they feel exciting to tackle. But the real reason I keep coming back is because they’re easy to execute, whether I’m following a recipe to a T or just using the pretty pictures and flavor combinations as inspiration.
The latest Ottolenghi cookbook takes that idea and distills it even further, which you can probably guess by the name alone: Simple. The concept explores a few different definitions of simple, derived from each letter of the title like an acrostic poem (not to get all English major on you, but you probably made one of those out of your own name in first grade...remember?).
In practice, that means this book is filled with things you can pull together in a snap, as well as hours-long set and forget weekend projects; there are as many dishes that introduce you to new ingredients as there are those that rely on things you’ve definitely got laying around; you’ll find ideas for spur-of-the-moment meals and game plans for perfectly planned out dinner parties.
While all aspects of Simple are useful, that last point caught my attention. I love entertaining, but too often get caught up in ambitious recipes that mean I’m still sweating and covered in flour when my guests arrive. While my friends couldn’t care less if I’m sporting a stained apron when I greet them, I love anything that helps me get the hard work out of the way before the buzzer rings.
After browsing through all the recipes, as well as the menu suggestions in the back of the book, I couldn’t wait to put together my own menu of Simple make-ahead dishes, and test them on my friends. Below, check out the menu and the game plan for pulling it off without a hitch:
The following spread—featuring smoky grilled grapes, bread if you wish, savory lamb patties, a simple salad tossed to taste, and a colorful couscous dish, rounded out with a cheesecake topped with honey and thyme—is plenty for a small crowd. (If you want to pepper in other favorites, like roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce or any dips or spreads for snacking while people filter in, I'd recommend starting with some of Ottolenghi's old stand-bys.)
Do all your shopping (or order your groceries online if you’re into that). Pick out the wines you’ll be serving, and/or let guests know the flavor profile that will go well with the meal if you’re asking them to bring anything. (I went with a chilled Gamay.)
Make the cheesecake. (You can also do this 1 day ahead if you prefer.)
Wash and marinate the grapes. Make the lamb patties (keeping them raw, covered, in the fridge) and make the sumac yogurt sauce. Make the couscous, onion, and raisin mix. (Save the tomatoes for day-of.)
Cook the lamb patties through. (You can also do this once guests are there as it’s fast, but they need a bit of attention in the pan, so I recommend doing it ahead if you can swing it.)
If you’ve got your hands on the cookbook—it dropped today—let us know what you’re excited to make in the comments!
Who says planning a dinner party has to be stressful? Ottolenghi Simple, co-written with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, features 130 approachable, flavor-forward recipes that showcase the beloved chef's signature Mediterranean flavors.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now