Weeknight Cooking

16 Ottolenghi Recipes That Make Our Lives a Little Simpler (& a Lot Tastier)

Some fuss-free favorites, plus new recipes from his latest cookbook.

October 22, 2018
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

It's no surprise we're big fans of Yotam Ottolenghi. We love his recipes for their brightness, freshness, and complex, multi-layered flavors—usually achieved by combining various fresh herbs, toasty, nutty spice blends, and dynamic, umami-rich ingredients (hello, pomegranate molasses and black garlic).

But we also love Ottolenghi's food for its familiar, homey appeal, as it relies on quality ingredients and achievable techniques to prepare. His sixth cookbook, Ottolenghi SIMPLE, just came out last week, and it's an ode to all things laid-back; it embraces the beauty and ease of the weeknight dinner, the low-key brunch, and the one-pot or sheet-pan wonder. The 130 recipes in SIMPLE all have one or more of the following qualities:

  • S: There are recipes for when you're Short on Time—they'll take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
  • I: They're made with 10 Ingredients or Less, excluding salt, pepper, water, olive oil, and in some cases, garlic and onion.
  • M: These recipes can be Made Ahead, so they're prepared up to a few days in advance of when you intend to serve or eat them, and just assembled when you're ready. The freezer is a great tool here, too, so you can make them even further ahead.
  • P: You'll find yourself turning to Pantry Staples for the main components of the meal—think canned beans, dried pasta, all-purpose flour, lemons, butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. Outside of these, Ottolenghi also gives his own 10 pantry staples, which include sumac, za'atar, ground cardamom, tahini, and rose harissa.
  • L: The recipes are Lazy—in a good way! You'll leave things on the stove or in the oven while you multitask, in or outside of the kitchen. Often you'll only use one pot or a single sheet pan, so clean-up is quick.
  • E: Finally, a few of the recipes in the book might sound complex or "restauranty," but these special preparations are actually Easy, and completely doable in the home kitchen. These include tartare, carpaccio, clafoutis, and many more.

The idea behind these several approaches is that every home cook has a unique way to make things easier on themselves in the kitchen, whether it's gathering components of the dish ahead of time; putting on a slow braise while gardening or doing laundry; or spending 30 minutes preparing the meal, tops. The common thread is that they all make cooking simpler, which is music to our ears.

To celebrate the release of SIMPLE, and to highlight its super-useful, versatile system, we're sharing some of our favorite Ottolenghi recipes from over the years that could've very easily fit into the newest book: They're a cinch to prepare but special in their own right. We've also included a few new recipes from SIMPLE in this list. Read on for the 16 ways Ottolenghi makes cooking a boldly flavored breeze.

Short on time

Couscous, Cherry Tomato & Herb Salad: As the couscous steeps in hot water, burst the cherry tomatoes in olive oil and pan-roast the spices. Mix the cooked couscous together with raisins, almonds, fresh herbs, and lemon juice and zest, and serve with the tomatoes on top. This dish, from the SIMPLE cookbook, is a perfect side for grilled meats or vegetables. Bonus: it's great to make ahead, too.

Shakshuka: Thick, spiced, garlicky tomato sauce makes perfect landing pad for eggs to gently steam and simmer, allowing the whites to firm up but the yolks to stay runny and saucy. The whole dish cooks in just under 30 minutes, making for a perfect easy weeknight meal or a quick, but luxurious, brunch.

Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale: Spicy, lemony sautéed kale meets a smokey, creamy green onion dip. The roasted garlic is really the longest time investment in this recipe—make extra to keep on hand so you can put together this dish even more quickly next time.

10 Ingredients or Less

Honey & Yogurt Set Cheesecake: This tangy, creamy, no-bake cheesecake from SIMPLE requires just 9 ingredients and can be made up to two days ahead—impressive and low-stress at the same time.

Roasted Onion Salad with Arugula and Walnut Salsa: A few key ingredients play big parts in this salad: Oven-roasted onions—tender, caramelized, and sweet—are tossed with bright parsley, arugula, goat cheese, and a zingy, crunchy walnut salsa to create a bold, yet balanced salad.

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake: Requiring just 10 ingredients, most of which you might already have in your fridge and pantry, this cake is fluffy, tender, moist, and extremely hard to mess up. Worth adding to your repertoire, for sure.


Beet, Caraway & Goat Cheese Bread: All this earthy, nutty, cheesy quick-bread needs is a slather of salted butter. Per SIMPLE, make it a few days ahead, serve it at your next brunch gathering, and watch how quickly it disappears.

Lamb & Pistachio Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce: In this recipe—another one from SIMPLE—crunchy pistachios, ground lamb, and zippy arugula come together in just about 30 minutes to make tender meat patties. They're great as a snack on their own, served with a tart, lemony sumac yogurt sauce, or as a protein to put on a bright arugula salad with Parmesan shavings. The ground meat mixture for the patties can be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated before cooking off, and leftovers keep well, too.

Apple & Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing: This cake can attribute its deep, complex flavor to its relatively long ingredients list, but also to being made ahead; the flavors get even more concentrated when they've had a few days to mingle and mature.


Pappardelle with Rose Harissa, Black Olives & Capers: This pasta uses several of Ottolenghi's pantry ingredients listed in SIMPLE—rose harissa, dried pasta, yogurt, capers, olives—and comes together in just about 30 minutes. It's a weeknight dinner hero, and the sauce can be doubled and stored in the fridge for up to three days (much longer than that in the freezer).

Neapolitan Pound Cake: A showstopper chocolate-and-vanilla-marbled bundt cake, made exclusively with pantry ingredients? Yes, you're reading that correctly. It can also be made a day or two ahead and iced when you're ready to serve.


Basic Hummus: This recipe is pretty magical, in that you take what essentially resembles a bag of small stones (the dried chickpeas) hanging out in your pantry, along with some other ingredients you almost certainly have on hand, and transform them into the smoothest, creamiest, nuttiest dip imaginable. The beans require overnight soaking, but need no poking or prodding until you're ready to make hummus the next day.

Marinated Pepper Salad with Basil, Capers & Pecorino: The key to this recipe is first roasting, and then marinating the peppers, which will need at least an hour and preferably overnight to absorb the flavor of a thyme-garlic-balsamic vinegar marinade. Then, you'll just toss it together with some herbs and cheese, using the same marinade you used for the peppers as the salad's dressing.


Burrata with Grilled Grapes & Basil: Grapes take on a whole new flavor profile when they're skewered and put on the grill, giving them a smokey, slightly plummy sweetness and an extra-juicy texture. Combined with creamy, mild burrata, the dish is elevated and dynamic, but pretty darn SIMPLE to put together.

Sweet Potatoes with Orange Bitters: The combination of sweet, bitter, and salty—achieved by reducing orange juice, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, and a friend to cocktails everywhere, Angostura bitters—provides an intense, complex, and totally complementary glaze for thickly cut sweet-potato wedges. You have to continually baste the potatoes for them to absorb as much of the liquid, and flavor, as possible.

Seafood, Fennel, and Lime Salad: The mixed seafood, bright assorted herbs, and spices collectively elevate this salad beyond its individual components. You'd never guess that it came together in under 30 minutes; it can also be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge, for the flavors to marry even more.

What are your favorite simple Ottolenghi treasures? Let us know in the comments below!

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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).

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2tattered November 12, 2018
I will make the hummus. The rest? Nope.
Marie November 11, 2018
This used to be my favorite website . The new ads and banners at the top of every article telling me what article I am reading (note to developers: I already know that) and ads between ingredients and directions of every recipe are deal breakers. So now I will tell people this website used to be good. Not any more. Unhappily Moving on...
Pat F. November 11, 2018
I can’t argue with your observations. The ‘obstructions’ to the cooking content to many websites is bothersome. However, for me, the cooking content here trumps the distractions by a hefty margin. If sites are going to have talented staff, revenue is necessary; so I deal with the distractions.
suzieq68 November 11, 2018
I made the cheesecake noted above, a few weeks ago and can confirm that yes, very easy and quick to make. And it definitely got better over the following 2 days flavorwise so recommend you make ahead if preparing for a dinner party.
Joni M. October 25, 2018
I am so excited to be going to an upcoming in-person event in Toronto with Yotam Ottolenghi and looking forward to receiving his latest cookbook! My favourite recipe is his hummus (which I got from Food52 - thank you!). I have made it at least 10 times and it always comes out great!
Author Comment
Brinda A. November 1, 2018
Amazing! So glad you love the hummus, Joni, and hope you enjoy the event.