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Eating & drinking   |   Recipes   |   Plant-based

Using your veg box: Ottolenghi-style

There’s no secret that the OTK crew stand faithfully behind Yotam’s love affair with vegetables. We have an all-inclusive, every-vegetable counts policy, which sometimes means that narrowing the options down can prove difficult.

We therefore stuck to the most accessible vegetables as we ate and tested our way through the seasons, while keeping the ‘make it your own’ options as expansive as possible. Big bundles of herbs and plenty of leafy greens, a few aubergines, a bag of onions and a very large butternut squash. If these were the contents of your veg box, what would you do with it all?

Focusing on the culinary positives of recent times, many of us have upped the hours we spend in the kitchen cooking for ourselves and our households. We’ve also spent some time digging through veg box deliveries, or rummaging through the season’s finds at our local (but also not always fully stocked) greengrocer or supermarket. This has sometimes meant less choice to play with on the one hand, but also way more perishable goods to reckon with on the other.

In this chapter, we aim to help you navigate through your vegetable finds while also keeping a few things in mind. The first is frugality – the need to use up what’s on hand: a few flimsy-looking aubergines soon become burnt aubergine, tomato and tahini. The second is creativity, or more likely an aversion to monotony, turning sweet potato flesh into shakshuka and saving the skins for a crispy snack.

The last is mindfulness, of perfectly imperfect produce, the ‘whats’ of what’s in season and the ‘hows’ of how best to use them – using funky looking tomatoes in the not-your-average tomato salad.

All the while we invite you to substitute and swap out, finding innovative solutions to leave your own mark on these dishes. This is a journey through our veg boxes, embracing the multitude of ways in which we treat our vegetables – smooshed, grated, grilled, roasted – and the various ways in which we serve them – with eggs, on warm yoghurt, spooned on to bread – helping you answer the question ‘What will I do with my veg box?’

Grilled courgettes with warm yoghurt and saffron butter

Courgette

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

This recipe is inspired by kousa b’laban, a Levantine dish of stuffed baby marrow cooked in yoghurt. In this simplified version the yoghurt sauce and grilled courgettes are cooked separately, then served with a quick saffron butter to spoon on top.

There’s a bit of an art to cooking yoghurt without having it curdle; stabilisers such as cornflour and egg yolk tend to do the trick, as does cooking the yoghurt on a moderate heat, stirring continuously and gently warming through without boiling. The result: a silky-smooth and tangy sauce, great for these courgettes but also with other grilled veggies, fatty meats or even as a sauce to pasta.

Serves 2–4

30g unsalted butter

¼ tsp saffron threads, roughly crushed

4 small, pale green or regular courgettes, tops trimmed slightly and courgettes halved lengthways (600g)

2½ tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cornflour

300g Greek-style yoghurt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½ tsp dried mint

¾ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar

1½ tbsp picked mint leaves

½ lemon

salt and black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to a high grill setting.

2. Put the butter and saffron into a small saucepan on a medium heat. When the butter has melted, set aside to infuse.

3. Place the courgettes on a parchment-lined baking tray and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil, teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Arrange them cut side up and grill for 15–20 minutes, until nicely charred and softened.

4. Towards the last 10 minutes of grilling time, make the sauce. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornflour and 3 tablespoons of water until smooth, then add the yoghurt, garlic, dried mint, the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine, then transfer to a large, non-stick sauté pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly and warmed through. Do not let the sauce boil, or it will split.

5. Transfer the warm yoghurt sauce to a plate with a lip and top with the courgettes, grilled side up. Spoon over the saffron butter, then sprinkle with the coriander seeds and mint leaves. Squeeze over the lemon half and serve right away.

The first in the new Ottolenghi Test Kitchen series, Shelf Love (Ebury Press, £25), written by Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad and the rest of the #OTK team, is out on 30 September.

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