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May 1, 2011 05:49 AM

May 2011 COTM, PLENTY: Pulses, Cereals, Pasta, Polenta, Couscous


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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 Pulses, Cereals, Pasta, Couscous.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gio


      once I finished slicing the peppers and onions and assembled the spices, this dish was easy.
      red peppers and onions are thinly sliced and sauteed in olive oil until soft. A few spoons of tomato puree, a tbsp of sugar, a tbsp of whole coriander seed, 100 g of currants and 2 tsp of pink peppercorn are added and sauteed for a couple of minutes. 400g of bulghur and 400 ml water are added (with some salt and pepper) when the dish comes to a boil, it is covered and taken off the heat to finish. (20 min covered) a garnish of chopped chives completes the dish (I used parsley, it was too hot to go out into the garden.

      This was really tasty and interesting with the nutty, flavorful bulghur and exotic spicing- we will definitely repeat.

      1. re: jen kalb

        Itamar's bulgur pilaf, p. 242 (UK ed.)

        I must concur with Jen: I thought this was terrific. The coriander seeds and pink peppercorns lent citrusy notes against the sweet onion and red pepper and earthy bulgur. I made a half recipe (which was a very generous amount), and used one red pepper and a medium-large yellow onion. Less olive oil, and didn't add the sugar. Lacking chives, I garnished with thinly sliced scallion greens.

        1. re: jen kalb

          ITAMAR's BULGUR PILAF, p. 242

          Not much to add here other than that this is a delicious dish that came together very easily. I didn't have any chives and my other dish had lots of parsley sprinkled on top, so I skipped this last step.

          I also substituted barberries for currants, which worked out very nicely. I will definitely make this again.

          ETA: I halved the olive oil from 6 to 3 tbsp and it was fine. More than enough.

          1. re: pistachio peas

            Love the idea of using barberries pp. Did you get them in T.O.?

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Not these ones, but yes, they are easily found in T.O. My two favorite Iranian/Middle Eastern shops are both on Yonge, just north of Finch: Super Khorak and Super Arzon.

              1. re: pistachio peas

                I haven't been to either pp but I'm excited to know of them now and can't wait to chk them out. Thanks!

      2. Freekeh Pilar (US pg. 241)

        Loved, loved, loved, loved this. I've made it twice and I can't wait to be able to use the herbs from my (still non planted) garden. But, this is lovely with bulger, which is what I've been using.

        I'm always looking for bulger recipes. I loved the ones I made from Roden's ME books. This is just as delicious and so fresh tasting.

        Saute onions with butter and olive oil until they are soft and brown. Add bulger, with cinnamon, allspice (and I also added cayenne or aleppo pepper) along with stock (I used chicken). Boil, cover and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Let it sit, covered for 10 minutes and then cool for 5 minutes, lid off.

        Meanwhile stir yogurt with lemon juice, garlic and salt. When the bulger is cooled, add chopped parsley, mint and cilantro. Dollop yogurt onto the pilaf. Lastly sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top.

        The yogurt does add a little something something to the dish. But, if you don't have any, it's just as delicious as without. I also made this without any mint and just added more parsley and cilantro. The toasted pine nuts added a really great textural contrast.

        A great versatile recipe especially for the coming summer months.

        5 Replies
        1. re: beetlebug

          Can't wait to try this beetlebug, I love bulger as well. Here in T.O. we're just able to harvest our chives but like you, I don't have any other herbs at the moment. It seems as though my rosemary and thyme didn't make it through the winter so I'll have to plant fresh this year.

          1. re: beetlebug

            Freekah Pilaf, Pg. 241 (English Edition)

            Nothing much to add to Beetlebug's excellent description of this tasty recipe. We made it last night and loved it too. I used Bob's Red Mill bulgar and after reading BB's report I intended to add cayenne pepper as she did but forgot. Oh well, next time. Since I had a couple of corn tortillas left from the quesedillas I served the pilaf on top of a hot buttered tortilla. Nothing like a few extra calories to round out the week. Also served a tossed salad but made the slaw dressing from Sweet Winter Slaw on page 102. D

            1. re: Gio

              Editing glitch on my post just above... that D is the first letter for the word Delicious. I tried to add it but after hitting "Save" only the D appeared.

              1. re: Gio

                Could I use wheat berries in place of the bulger in this recipe?

                1. re: pagesinthesun

                  I don't see why not. Google offers 90,800 results for wheat berry pilaf... Let us know how it turns out. Many here cook wheat berries regularly.

            2. Fried Butterbeans with sorrel, feta and sumac

              The recipe calls for 450g (or a lb for the metric-averse) of butterbeans, soaked overnight with bicarb and then boiled until soft. I didn't have any dried butterbeans so I used two cans, which I reckoned would be enough for about half a recipe. Ottolenghi has you fry the butterbeans in plenty of butter and olive oil, until the skins blister a little and go brown and a bit crispy. You then add garlic, sliced chilli (optional, but I used it), spring onions and sorrel and fry for a couple of minutes more. Tip the beans into a bowl, season, and when cooled add crumbled feta, lemon juice, a sprinkling of sumac and some soft herbs (he suggests chervil or dill, but I only had chives to hand).

              We quite liked this, but on reflection I think I cut the amount of butter and oil too much as the beans were a little dry and didn't really crisp up. The recipe calls for 4Tbsp of oil and 60g of butter - I used 20g of butter and 2 Tbsp of oil. I also think it would be much better to use dried beans because the canned ones were quite soft and broke down a little on frying. Nevertheless, it was a tasty dish and we enjoyed it with some simply cooked fennel and lemon sausages and a little homemade green tomato chutney. There wasn't a scrap left!

              I chose this recipe primarily because I scored some lovely sorrel at the farmer's market on Sunday - I do love sorrel and it's astringency went nicely here. I think sorrel soup is still my favourite though.

              1. Farro and roasted pepper salad, p. 234 (UK)

                Two red peppers are charred, left covered, peeled, and torn into pieces; he calls for using the broiler, but I roasted them over the gas flame on my stove, which is quicker and simpler, leaving the stem and seeds intact until after. I also used a knife to chop them.. Farro is cooked in boiling salted water until tender; my semi-pearled farro took 12 minutes. To the farro and peppers are added quartered black olives (I used Nicoise), sliced scallions, crumbled feta, and fresh oregano or thyme (I used oregano). This is dressed with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, ground allspice, smoked paprika, and salt.

                This was lovely for lunch today. The flavors all work very nicely together. Reading the recipe, I had thought that stirring in some baby arugula leaves would be a good addition, but in the instant I forgot about them. Next time.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Farro and roasted pepper salad, p. 234 (UK)

                  Thanks to Caitlin for including this in her 2011 COTM recipes worth repeating list. I made this with thyme instead of oregano and decreased the amount of honey slightly ( a bit less than 1 t of honey for a half recipe). I am now regretting not making the full recipe.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Farro and roasted pepper salad, p. 234 (UK)

                    This had been on my list to make and when I saw BigSal bump this thread, it moved up the priority list. I made this with Israeli couscous instead of farro as I'm trying to work through a bag of it. It made for a lovely dish with leftovers that I actually looked forward to eating. Will make again.

                    1. re: TxnInMtl

                      Making it with Israeli couscous instead of farro makes it seem a lot more accessible to me - thanks for the tip.

                  2. Qiunoa and Grilled Sourdough Salad (from PLENTY)

                    "Grilled sourdough" got my attention of course, and this turned out to be just maybe a perfect summer salad. My dill & chives are freeze-dried and I subbed celery leaves and oregano for parsley and mint, so your version could be even better & fresher. Thick slices of good sourdough bread are brushed with olive oil and pan-fried/browned. Then 10 minutes in the oven (to dry them into croutons?) I think this step is not crucial -- I'd like moist chewy-inside bread hunks just as well as crunchy. Tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa are in there too--and fresh herbs. I made the dressing-- olive oil and lemon juice and smashed garlic, salt & pepper. (Took 2 seconds!)
                    Very happy with this dish-- not exotic, I know, but a little extra and not ordinary tasting at all.

                    I rely on my (very basic) rice cooker to do the quinoa, and it is perfect every time.
                    I don't understand "1 garlic clove, crushed" -- OK, now I have a flat reeking piece of garlic--do I put it in the salad whole? I mashed it very well with mortar & pestle and mixed it into the olive oil.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: blue room

                      I *think* that when cookbooks ask for "crushed" garlic, they're asking you to put it through a garlic press. Not the clearest language, but I do believe that's the intention. Claudia Roden (Arabesque, New Book of Middle Eastern Food COTM author) uses the same terms, so I don't know if it is a British cookery thing. Not being a garlic press person, I just mince it as finely as I can.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Aha -- I don't have a garlic press either, and did not know (until looking at some online tonight) that they sort of pureƩ the clove, just as I did with the mortar and pestle. I just figured a garlic press...just pressed the garlic. I wasn't aware of the little holes...

                        In a cooked dish I mince, mash with fork, it doesn't matter so much. But this was raw in the dressing.

                        Thank you Caitlin, this isn't the first time you've educated me!

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Yes, definitely put through a garlic press/crusher. It's a pretty standard instruction in British cooking - I think everyone would know what it meant.