And no, it’s not some new disease… Chef Yotam Ottolenghi is a restaurateur and cookbook author from West Jerusalem who co-authored the book, Jerusalem, with his business partner from East Jerusalem, Sami Tamimi.
By beautifully bringing together the foods of their divergent, and often conflicting, Jerusalems, Ottolenghi and Tamimi both inspire my culinary sensibilities and reinvigorate hopes that peace in the Middle East remains possible.
Their secret is simple recipes with extraordinary flavor combinations that balance sweet, salty, spicy and acidic flavors with creamy and crunchy textures.
Such is my love for their book that I recently hosted a “Jerusalem” gathering where my table was filled with their creations (see picture). If I had to pick my favorite salad in the book, it would be the “Roasted sweet potatoes and figs”. The recipe involves roasting sweet potato wedges and laying them out on a plate with fresh, ripe figs and a “dressing” of sautéed scallions and red chile peppers. With a garnish of goat cheese and balsamic syrup, the end-product is divine.
Once you’ve caught Ottolenghi fever, I can guarantee that you will not only cook your way through their book but you’ll use their approach and techniques to make your own recipes. Just combine your favorite fresh ingredients in unexpected ways to delight your palate. Here are some ideas:
- Try roasting the figs and serving them with black olives and goat cheese
- How about butternut squash dressed with tahini, pomegranate syrup and pomegranate seeds?
What other ideas come to mind?