I haven't called this post Five Favourite Recipes as I've only recently started cooking from this book, so I've only tried about five recipes so far.
What I loved about the book when I first got it out from the public library was that it uses ingredients which I have bought and stockpiled in my pantry, and then never got around to using because I didn't have that many recipes that used them. Ingredients like dried Iranian limes, freekeh (Egyptian smoked green wheat), soba noodles, large Israeli couscous/Sardinian fregola, and pomegranate molasses.
There are a few recipes using quinoa, an ingredient that hasn't yet made it into my already overstocked pantry, and barley. While I had previously bookmarked a few recipes for barlotto ('risotto' made with barley) from various sources, I have yet to cook any of them.
I also noticed a recipe that uses verjuice, and a bean recipe that uses lovage, a herb that I have been growing in my garden for several years, but have only used the occasional few leaves (the taste is quite strong) for pea and lovage soup, a River Cottage recipe.
Many of the recipes include at least a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
So here are 5 of the recipes I have tried so far.
1. Soba Noodles with Aubergine and Mango.
soba noodles, aubergine, mango, lime, rice vinegar, fresh herbs.
Seems like an unusual combination, but it was really good, the only thing was that it seemed very acid, perhaps next time I would reduce the amount of vinegar.
The price sticker on my packet of soba noodles said 89p, the price when I looked recently in a Korean/Japanese food shop was more like £4.89, an indication of how long the noodles had been in my pantry (and of high inflation - I can't remember when I had bought the noodles, but probably not longer ago than 2010).
2. Itamar's Bulghar Pilaf.
bulgur, onions, red peppers, currants, spices.
Very colorful and tasty, the only problem with this was that the whole coriander seeds were a bit of a nuisance when trying to eat it, I think next time I will substitute them with ground coriander.
3. Freekeh Pilaf.
freekeh, onions, stock, spices, fresh herbs, pine nuts, yogurt.
This tasted lovely, similar to a mushroom risotto. The wheat grains had a slightly chewy texture. I made it with some chicken stock that I happened to have in the fridge. This was the first time that I had cooked or eaten freekeh.
4. Burnt Aubergine with Tahini.
aubergines, tahini, pomegranate molasses, lemon, garlic, parsley, pomegranate.
I love aubergines, and this will be one more recipe to add to my repertoire of aubergine dips.
I skipped the tomatoes and cucumbers, and didn' t have any pomegranate seeds on hand to scatter over the top as decoration.
In the photo in the book, this dish looks very white, as if it had yogurt on top, as well as the pomegranate seeds, but no yogurt is called for in the recipe. My version turned out looking more dark grey, like mud, but was very delicious nevertheless.
5. Black Pepper Tofu.
tofu, chilies, garlic, black pepper, spring onions, soy sauce.
I had bookmarked a very similar recipe from Spice Trip, by Stevie Parle and Emma Grazette, but for some reason we opted to make the Ottolenghi version. Not sure if we used the full amount of black peppercorns.