This is an embarrassingly unoriginal Ottolenghi knock off. I even shamelessly copied the style of the photographs. The recipe is an amalgamation of two different offerings from Yotam’s latest cookbook, ‘Plenty More’. Apart from the dressing, which we cobbled together from random ingredients lurking at the back of the kitchen cupboard, it’s pretty much a dead copy. Which is unusual, as I don’t find myself following recipes much these days. I get too frustrated with following exact measurements and prescriptive methods, and end up disregarding both and producing something that bares little resemblance to the intended dish. One of the hazards of being a food blogger, I guess.
Ottolenghi provides an unstoppable font of inspiration for me. He combines ingredients in ways that I had never even considered (leeks, goats cheese and sultanas, for example) opening up a whole range of new tastes. Also, the methods and techniques of cooking he uses are so varied and interesting that they have me running straight into the kitchen to start experimenting. There’s usually one element of each of his recipes that elevates them to another level – such the addition of a particular spice, usually an unpronounceable Middle Eastern variety that can only be ordered online. I have invested in several Ottolenghi ‘essentials’, such as pomegranate molasses, sumac and za’tar, but don’t ask me what any of them actually are. All I know is that they often provide an elusive final taste to make Middle Eastern specialities taste much more authentic.
The tumeric roasted walnuts in this recipe are an example of the above – a simple ingredient transformed by the addition of a few spices and a different way of cooking. I’ve always considered turmeric a bit of a non-spice, its chief use being the vibrant yellow colour that it imparts. However, roasting walnuts in the spice brings out their sweetness, adding a remarkable depth of flavour. I have since learnt that turmeric is commonly used in sweet dishes, and some folk swear by drinking turmeric tea first thing in the morning. This somewhat fusion recipe combines these walnuts with fresh green veg, sesame seeds and a punchy, vinegary dressing. Hopefully Yotam would approve.
Read Paris’ equally gushing Ottolenghi-related post here.
For the salad:
100g green beans
100g mange tout
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
For the walnuts:
2 handfuls walnuts
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp olive oil
For the dressing:
2 tsps olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
a 2cm piece of ginger, finely grated
First, prepare the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together the turmeric, sugar and olive oil with a tsp water to form a paste. Put the walnuts in a baking dish and stir through the turmeric paste. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted.
Bring a pan of water to a simmer, and blanch the vegetables: put the green beans in the water first for about 3 minutes, followed by the mangetout for 1 minute, then half the spinach for 30 seconds. Refresh under cold running water for 30 seconds, to retain the bright green colour.
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a glass. To serve, arrange the green veg, adding the rest of the fresh spinach, then top with the walnuts, drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle over the sesame seeds.