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May 1, 2011 05:24 AM

May 2011 COTM, PLENTY: Roots, Funny Onions

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  1. This is the reporting thread for this Month's Cookbook of the Month, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The chapter is: Roots, Funny Onions

    1. I made the beet salad with oranges and oil cured olives for about the 3rd or 4th time. I love this salad, but I tend to add a bit more acid when I make it. I had some blood oranges that were on their last legs, so I used those as well as plain old endive. Everything turns bright red, so it's quite a vivid salad.

      1. Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad (US. pg. 14)

        We liked this a lot and I would make this again, esp when the summer and fall carrots start coming in. I would make some slight changes though. Overall, an easy dish and quite refreshing.

        So, slice and boil 2 lbs. of carrots. Then saute 1 chopped onion, until slightly brown, then add the cooked carrots. Lastly, add crushed garlic cloves, chopped scallions, 2 chopped chilis, and a mess of spices, preserved lemon and white wine vinegar. Right before serving, add cilantro and greek yogurt.

        Next time, I would add the green chiles, garlic, green onions, and all the spices at the end of the cooked onions. The garlic and chiles were a bit too raw for me. But, this recipe will be repeated.

        6 Replies
        1. re: beetlebug

          I know we'd love this too beetlebug, thanks for your enhancements, I've noted them in my book. I'd love to try this w fresh carrots from the market.

          1. re: beetlebug

            We really liked this salad also. I made it when I made the lamb and apricot tagine from AMFT, thought the salad was better than the entree. I used whole baby carrots instead of slices. I added the spices part way through the onion saute as I think that really releases their aromas. I served the yogurt on the side. This recipe is rather similar to the Moroccan carrot salad in the ENYT Cookbook, with less time needed for marinating. I liked them both.

            1. re: L.Nightshade

              Three cheers for this one! A great side - we ate it at room temperature one night and warm the next - it was great both ways!

              If you sliced the carrots smaller it would also make a great filling for a veggie sandwich!

            2. re: beetlebug

              Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad

              Made this last night to serve with the roasted chicken with saffron, honey and hazelnut from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. T'was a Big Hit. I halved the recipe and cooked the onions and garlic till garlic was golden then added the spices. I used a large white onion, the 1 jalapeño for the chili, otherwise used all the listed ingredients. Loved the addition of the yogurt and cilantro served on the side.

              1. re: beetlebug

                I took a test kitchen approach this time, after two previous Plenty failures (eggplant with pomegranate, and the controversial pepper tofu; see previous posts). Normally, I use my own judgement when reading a recipe, making substitutions, basically taking the recipe as inspiration rather than gospel. This time, I went by the book, doing the entire mise in advance, refreshing my spices and substituting nothing.

                Beetlebug and Nightshade areexactly right: those spices, including the garlic, need cooking before the carrots get tossed in or you will have spice grit and raw garlic chunks in there (the garlic is crushed rather than minced or made into a paste.)

                My opinion of the recipe as written: acceptable but not wowsie, gritty, lifted mainly by the yogurt preserved lemon and cilantro, which make almost anything taste great (unless you are a cilantro hater; there is more than 1/2cup per serving in this one). It tasted better to me at room temp and sitting a while than it did when still warm, and is best as a small component of a larger plate.

                1. re: beetlebug

                  +1 for this dish, really enjoyed it. I will add that I followed the recipe and added the chiles, garlic, and spices with the carrots, rather than cooking them for a few minutes with the onions first, and didn't notice the rawness. The combination did sit in the frying pan with the heat off for 10-15 minutes while I finished dinner, so maybe this "cooked" the ingredients enough to take the edge off.

                2. Two-Potato Vindaloo p.18

                  This recipe is a bit time consuming and the ingredient list is long, but it is absolutely worth it!
                  Whole spices are toasted and ground to make a lovely warm garam-masala type blend. Shallots are chopped and fried with oil ( I bet ghee would be nice) until browned. Recipe calls for 10 oz, I used just shy of 2 cups. Add 1 red chili, but I only had serranos on hand. I would add way more chilies next time; there was hardly any heat at all...or maybe toss in a plump crimson birds eye. This was my first time making a vindaloo, and when I poured in the cider vinegar, I thought that I had ruined the dish....have no fear, it all balances out in the end. The tomatoes (simmered with the masala blend and water after the onions are browned) disintegrate into the sauce, adding a sweet yet tart depth of flavour that is different from the acidity in the vinegar. So many tangy components in here all work together to create a very complex finished product. Diced red peppers and yellow fleshed potatoes combine with vibrant orange sweet potato for a beautiful palate of colours that is as pleasing to look at as it is to eat. The peppers and the sweet potato are a very welcome contrast in flavour; sweet and almost fruit-like when compared with the biting tart tones of the sauce. I thought that a dollop of yogurt on top would be too much, but it somehow works with the rest of the ingredients, yet leaves its own distinctive note singing above the rest of the dish. Served with basmati rice. A beautiful melody for the senses.

                  Mr. Ottolenghi suggests a sprinkling of cilantro or mint as the final touch, but I did not enjoy the cilantro with this and would next time try the mint. Also, the cooking time of the potatoes took at least twice as long as suggested, but that is more likely the fault of my warped pot that does not have a lid that conforms to its twisted frame. I'm sure if properly covered, the spuds would be done much sooner.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Allegra_K

                    So glad to read your review Allegra, I have this on my menu for either this week or next and I'm really excited to try it now I've read of your success. It sounds delicious and your photo is perfection . . . Indian fine dining at its best!

                  2. Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette, Pg. 16 (English Edition)

                    This was so much more than the title suggests. Lots of vegetables and a hearty, complex dressing.

                    It will definitely make encore appearances throughout the month with a variety of vegetables.

                    We were fortunate in that our local supermarket actually carried Spring dug parsnips from a farm in the western part of the state. So semi-local. Surprise, Surprise.

                    The vegetables include: 4 parsnips/halved and chunked, 4 red onions/quarter wedges, a whole head of garlic/halved horizontally, 2 sweet potatoes/ halved and wedged, 30 cherry tomatoes/halved. (Yes, I counted as I sliced...LOL)

                    The dressing was made by whisking together 4 tablespoons small capers, lemon juice, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and S & P.

                    The parsnips and onions are tossed with EVOO, garlic, thyme, rosemary, S & P in a large bowl. Spread in a large roasting pan and place in a preheated 375F oven to roast for 20 minutes. During this time prep the sweet potatoes by taking off the tip and the "tail"... keep the skin on. Slice the potatoes in half crosswise then in 6 wedges each piece. At the 20 minute mark add the potatoes to the parsnips and continue roasting for another 40 - 50 minutes. It took 45 minutes for all the veggies to cook through. At this time add the halved cherry tomatoes and roast about 10 minutes. As soon as the vegetables come out of the oven pour the dressing over all and toss gently to combine. If you wish, sesame seeds can be scattered over top as a garnish. I didn't.

                    The photo on the page opposite this recipe really tells the story. Succulent vegetables, tangy dressing, completely satisfying. It went very well with the stuffed portobello mushrooms on page 56 and bruschetta.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      I bought some parsnips at the Farmer's market this week with the intention of finally trying this root. [I recognized it immediately. My mother used to put them under roasts.]

                      I made a half recipe since there are only two of us and reduced the amount of oil in the roasting pan by another half. We have enough left over for each of us to have another serving.

                      Gio outlined the process well. My few notes would be:

                      • next time I will cook the veggies longer, or cut them smaller. I had a few hard chunks and wanted a bit of browing.
                      • The open head of garlic didn't flavor the dish as much as I would have liked. Next time I will peel the cloves and throw them in whole

                      We both really enjoyed this dish and imagine it as a launching pad for any vegetable that looks good during our long winter.

                      1. re: smtucker

                        Glad to read your report, SMT. I love parsnips and especially like them with roasted garlic. Did you squeeze the garlic out of their skins and smoosh it over the veggies?

                        Nigel Slater has a similar recipe for roasted root vegetables which I intend to make on Tuesday night. He uses a huge variety: beets, celeriac, parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, rutabaga, etc. In his version all the vegetables are peeled and chopped, water is brought to boil and all the vegetables - except the beets - are boiled for 10 minutes. Then all are tossed with thyme leaves and S & P and put into a 350F oven to roast for 45 minutes. I have a feeling, though, this is going to take longer than that. No dressing...

                        1. re: Gio

                          Smooshing was done by the dinners on their own plates with less than perfect results. I bet adding the roasted garlic to the dressing and whisking it before throwing over the vegetables could help as well. I just don't think my vegetables had quite enough cooking time.

                          When I warm them up for lunch, I plan to throw them on a sheet pan and into the toaster oven for a half hour or so. I bet they will be even better than the first time!

                      2. re: Gio

                        We finally got around to making this wonderful dish last week, and everyone agreed that a big platter is NECESSARY for our thanksgiving dinner. We made the recipe basically as written,with parsnips, sweet potatoes, red onions and cherry tomatoes, but with an addition of some chopped parsley to the final dressing. I highly recommend

                        Notes, I cut the hard hearts out the parsnips. We also followed the instructions to roast til all the veg were cooked through and a golden color. This was longer than the 40-50 min predicted., and then the 10 min or so with the tomatoes followed, but the caramelization was definitely worth it.

                        1. re: Gio

                          Roasted Parsnips, Sweet Potatoes (golden beets) with Caper Vinaigrette, pg. 16

                          Add us to the fan club. If you happen to have spring dug parsnips, really really think about this one.

                          I didn't plan ahead enough to have sweet potato on hand, so used golden beets instead, they were OK here, but sweet potato would definitely have been better. And my thyme plant gave up the struggle this winter, so it was rosemary and sage, the sage worked well here. Making a half recipe, I just threw in five garlic cloves, unpeeled but lightly cracked, rather than waste half a head of garlic, and it was garlicky enough for us. My root veggies cooked through in exact time, but I had added the beets up front not after 20 minutes as one would with the potato, so that would make some difference in timing. My cherry tomatoes could have used a few more minutes than the stated 10. Loved the caper vinaigrette finish.

                          We had this with the lemon chicken from 150 Best Recipes--would happily repeat that combination. None of either dish left over, and yet glad I didn't make a full batch, as I'd probably be sneaking back into the kitchen for more parsnips.