Q

Chef Yotam Ottolenghi on living and cooking boldly

He's as complex and colourful as his cuisine. Israeli-born English cookbook author and restauranteur Yotam Ottolenghi swings through studio q.

He's as complex and colourful as his cuisine. Israeli-born English cookbook author and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi joins Shad to discuss his dedication to cooking and living dramatically.

Ottolenghi's culinary style is anything but minimalist — lots of herbs, bright flavours and diversity in every bite.

Likewise, his own life is infused with varied influences, from his journalistic and philosophical training, to his cross-cultural partnerships, to his lived experiences as a gay parent. 

His latest cookbook, co-authored by Ramael Scully, is named after his Soho-based restaurant, NOPI.

Chef Yotam Ottolenghi poses with Shad in studio q. (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)

WEB EXTRA | Butternut squash with ginger tomatoes and lime yogurt

These are two bad boys that have been around the Ottolenghi delis and NOPI restaurant for a very long time. Any new player has to have very good credentials to gain the respect of the old-timers and get a shot on the menu. 

The combination here of sweet roasted squash with lime-fresh yogurt and gingery oven-dried tomatoes was deemed to cut the mustard. Ready-made crispy fried shallots can be found in Asian food stores. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, trimmed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, then cut widthwise into 1-inch/2.5 cm slices (13/4 lb/800 g)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise (1lb 1oz/500 g)
  • 11/4-inch/3-cm piece of ginger, finely grated (1 oz/30 g)
  • 1 red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 packed tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • coarse sea salt and black pepper
  • Lime yogurt scant 1/2 cup/120 g Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 
  • lime, plus 11/2 tsp lime juice

To serve:

  • 1/5 oz/5 g cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 oz/30 g cashew nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 oz/10 g crispy store-bought fried shallots (optional)

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 465°F/240°C (425°F/220°C convection).

2) Mix the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Spread out on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

3) Reduce the oven temperature to 340°F/170°C (300°F/150°C convection).

4) Place the tomato halves on a parchment-lined baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and cook for 80 minutes, until softened.

5) Place the ginger,  chile,  garlic,  sugar,  and 1/4 tea- spoon of salt in a medium bowl. Mix to form a paste, then spoon this on top of the tomatoes. Cook for another 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are caramelized, and set aside to cool.

6) Place all the ingredients for the lime yogurt in a small bowl, with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

7) Spread  the squash  out on a large platter and layer the tomatoes  in between. Drizzle over the lime yogurt, sprinkle with the cilantro, cashews, and shallots, and serve.

Excerpted from Nopi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. Copyright © 2015 Yotam Ottolenghi, LLP. Food photography copyright © 2015 Jonathan Lovekin. Location photography copyright © 2015 Adam Hinton. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a penguin Random House company. All rights reserved.

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