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A touch of Ottolenghi

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

The last of the summer vegetables come with the last of the summer evenings and this inspires me to cook my old favourite Turkish bean dish and at last venture into the Ottolenghi cook book my sister bought me at Red Kangaroo Books in Alice Springs. We have some flat beans, late summer tomatoes, one eggplant and some zucchini. We have a jar of tahini ( I always keep some in the cupboard) and in the garden our herbs are going strong. In other words, we have more than enough for a feast that might just look a little like the pictures in Simple by Ottolenghi.

My mother and father travelled extensively when Dad was still alive and Turkey was one of places that held special memories for them of friendly people and amazing food. There they picked up a small cook book in English. Beans cooked Turkish style are to die for. I have always wanted to recreate the flavour and texture I found in restaurants and it wasn't until I tried the recipe in this book that I discovered the simplicity of the dish and also the surprise secret ingredient - sugar!

Turkish Beans

Fry a medium sliced onion in about a half a cup of olive oil in a broad based simmer pan. Add a couple of peeled tomatoes and cook until they are soft. Top and tail about 500g of flat beans or french beans and add them to the pot. Add salt and two teaspoons of sugar. Pour in enough water to cover the beans. Put on the lid and simmer for an hour on a low heat. If it gets too dry, add a little more water.

Eggplant Dip

How do I get a smokey eggplant flavour without a fire or barbecue? The confinement has allowed me the time and space to experiment and this is my solution. Firstly I put the eggplant on top of the big gas burner of my stove and keep turning it until the outside is nicely charred. Then I cover it and cook it in the microwave until the while eggplant is soft inside. I pull the charred skin off, mash with a fork and add tahini, garlic and lemon.

Crushed Zucchini (thanks to Yatam Ottolenghi)

3 large zucchini

1 tsp dried mint

two teaspoons of thyme leaves

70 mil olive oil

1 whole head of garlic

2 tbsp chopped mint leaves

1 tbsp chopped dill

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and black pepper

Cut the zucchini into chunks and in a mixing bowl coat them with the olive oil, dried mint, thyme, salt and pepper. Put them into an oven tray and roast them for 15 minutes then add the garlic and roast for a further 15 min or until everything is nice and soft.

Put everything into a colander over a bowl and squish it so some of the liquid is released. Leave to cool for a least 30 minutes. Transfer it to a bowl, squeeze the garlic out and then mash all together with a fork. Stir in the mint, dill and lemon juice and serve. (lovely with a dollop of yoghurt on the top)

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