Yotam Ottolenghi: I love the guy but his recipes can be exhausting. So many ingredients! So many herbs to wash and chop! So many spices to toast and grind! This sort of bullsh*t usually results in cookbooks becoming consigned to the bedtime reading pile, never again to make it back to the kitchen.
But Ottolenghi is an exception: his recipes are worth the effort. There’s a reason for his many and specific ingredients. There’s a reason for every precise step in his recipes. And the reason is delicious. Case study: Ottolenghi’s polenta, silverbeet & feta bake (I did make a few changes though, cos I just can’t help myself).
Polenta, silverbeet & feta bake
A Yotam Ottolenghi recipe with a couple of Cake for Breakfast change-ups.
2 tablespoons oil
1 & 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or chopped
2 cans of Italian tomatoes, juice drained off
a large bunch of silverbeet
pinch of sea salt
zest of 2 lemons
25g fresh mint leave (a large bunch)
15g fresh dill (a small bunch)
5-6 spring onions
60g kalamata olives (about 20), pitted
2 free-range eggs
190g thick unsweetened yoghurt (I used this stuff)
4 tablespoons olive oil
40g parmesan, finely grated
150g coarse or fine polenta
Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash the silverbeet thoroughly then cut the leaves away from the stems; slice the stems thinly and roughly chop the leaves. Drain and discard most of the juice from the cans of the tomatoes and use a small knife to roughly chop the tomatoes up.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and fry the caraway seeds and garlic over a medium-high heat for a minute, stirring the whole time. Add the silverbeet stalks and leaves and tomatoes and cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Using a wooden spoon to stir every so often and to break up the tomatoes further as they cook.
Meanwhile wash and roughly chop the mint and dill, pit and roughly chop the olives and crumble the feta up. Once the silverbeet has wilted down, remove the pan from the heat and add the herbs, olives, feta and lemon zest.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the yoghurt, oil, parmesan and polenta and whisk until it forms a thick batter. Take a large shallow baking dish (approximately 20 x 30cm) and pour in half of the batter and spread it out so that it completely covers the bottom of the dish. Spoon the herby greens mixture evenly over the top, then pour over the remaining batter; it won’t completely cover the greens. Bake for 40-45 minutes until dark golden brown on top, then leave to stand for 10 minutes.