After having tested and tried the cookbook Sweet from Yotam Ottolenghi and only ending up with great food, I decided it was time to buy one of his savoury cookbooks. I decided on Plenty since I read some good reviews. But also, because I really wanted to up my game in cooking vegetables and vegetarian foods. So far, I’m very happy with my choice. I’ve made several delicious dishes already and, learned a ton of new things already!
The book Plenty was brought out in 2010 and doesn’t contain any fish or meat in its recipes. It’s not necessarily a vegetarian cookbook though. Suggestions for accompanying meat dishes are made once in a while and non-vegetarian cheeses are used regularly as well. This again is something that greatly appeals to me, in a similar way his cookbook Sweet appealed to me. It’s not about a strict diet, about rights or wrongs, it’s about good food and good cooking and in doing so, being sensible.
The book is based on Yotam’s columns as a columnist for the British newspaper the Guardian, although it doesn’t exclusively contain these. They’ve been refined and tweaked over time. They’re not Mediterranean, nor British, instead, the recipes all seem to be a fascinating combination of different cultures and cuisines.
Each chapter is centered around a hero ingredient. Most of them are vegetables, roots, mushrooms and tomatoes are just a few examples, but some center around fruit or grains. The index at the beginning of the book lists all the chapters, with all the recipes per category, which is very convenient.
The great advantage over grouping the recipes per main ingredient instead of course type is that you can easily use it for inspiration. If you have some eggplants lying around for instance, or some carrots, it invites to improvise and create instead of just following a recipe to the tea.
As in Sweet, there are plenty of beautiful photos of most of the recipes. I find it almost essential to have a photo with a recipe. It helps to have some sort of an idea of how it will turn out, especially if it’s something you’ve never made before. Plenty also contains several photos of Yotam himself, shopping at a market or cooking along with others. It somehow makes it even clearer that it’s his book, but also his way of cooking and thinking.
There’s a good variation of very simple recipes with only a few ingredients and more complicated ones. That said though, the number of ingredients is definitely not a measure for the complexity in this book. There are recipes with plenty of ingredients, but all you have to do is mix the ingredients together. It a lot of cases you won’t use complicated cooking or prepping steps.
The cover recipe
As you can see on the photo above, we made the cover recipe of this book to start with. Eggplant can often be a little tricky, but this recipe makes it a pie of cake. The recipe isn’t only very simple, the flavours work together amazingly well! It’s already a new favorite in our house, no meat required for sure! Somehow this originality of flavour combinations keeps on coming back in all recipes. Another one we made is the winter slaw, a type of cole slaw, but containing papaya. I would have never thought of adding papaya, but it works amazingly well.
Loving both food and science I’m not looking for cookbooks that will help me impress my neighbours or guests. Instead, when I buy a cookbook I hope to learn a lot about food. Learn new techniques that help me understand food better and how it responds. Plenty will suit just about anyone who wants to be cooking more original foods with vegetables (without always having to rely on meat). It’s especially great though if you’re looking for something new and refreshing. No conservative, ever returning recipes here, everything has a Yotam twist to it and just works out well!