Eating fresh, clean ingredients have a multitude of benefits. Not only do they taste better, but they have been proven to help your digestive system, improve mood, and assist overall health + wellbeing. Inspired by homegrown ingredients, we love all of these simple, summer dishes from one of our favorite London-based chefs, Ottolenghi.
Seriously Zesty "Panzanella"
This salad is only worth making when tomatoes are in season and full of flavour. It should be acidic and tangy, and will taste amazing alongside a piece of slightly charred meat from the barbecue.
- 150g crustless rustic bread (stale or fresh) - sourdough or ciabatta, for example - cut in 2-3 cm cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 small cucumbers (15cm long), cut into 2cm pieces
- 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, cored and cut into large pieces
- 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp sumac (optional)
- Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1½ tsp red-wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread out the bread on a roasting tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with some flaky salt. Bake for 20 minutes until crispy and golden, then leave to cool.
- Mix all the other salad ingredients and adjust the seasoning to taste. Just before serving, mix in the toasted bread, using your hands.
Grilled romaine lettuce with charred corn & salsa roja
Grilling balances out romaine’s natural bitterness. If you’re cooking these on a barbecue, wait for the flames to die down first.
- 100ml buttermilk
- 4 romaine lettuces, cut in half lengthways
- 50ml vegetable oil, or other neutral oil
- For the salsa roja
- 3 plum tomatoes (250g)
- 1 romano pepper, cut in half lengthways, stem, seeds and pith removed (150g)
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- 5 red chillies, stems removed, seeds and pith scraped out and discarded if you prefer less heat (50g)
- 1 whole head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp light soft brown sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- For the corn relish
- 2 corn cobs
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1½ tsp urfa chilli
- 1 lime, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then juiced, to get 2 tsp
- 2 small spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Flaked sea salt, table salt and black pepper
First make the salsa roja. Put a lightly greased griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Once the pan is smoking hot, lay in the tomatoes, pepper (cut side down), onion wedges, chillies and garlic cloves, and grill, turning as necessary, until nicely charred all over and softened – the garlic will take four to five minutes, the chillies about 10 and the tomatoes, onions and peppers 20-25 minutes. As each vegetable is charred and ready, transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
Once the tomatoes, onions and peppers are out of the griddle pan, lay in the corn and char, turning as necessary, for about five minutes. Remove from the griddle and set aside to cool, and keep the pan on a low heat.
Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and put the flesh in a blender with all the other charred veg except the corn. Add the vinegar, sugar, cumin, 50ml water and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, and blitz to a smooth puree. Pour this into a medium bowl, then stir in the buttermilk.
Hold each corn cob vertically on a board and run a sharp knife down the sides to remove the kernels (discard the core, or save it for stock). Put the butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat and cook for five to eight minutes, until it’s melted, smells nutty and is nicely browned. Off the heat, stir in the urfa and the corn, then set aside to cool.
Turn the heat under the griddle pan back up high. Brush the cut side of the lettuce halves with half the oil, then lay four of them cut side down on the grill and char for four minutes. Brush the outside of the romaine halves with more oil, carefully turn over, char for another four minutes, then arrange them cut side up on a platter. Repeat with the remaining four romaine halves and oil.
Sprinkle the charred lettuce with a good pinch of flaked sea salt, then spoon over the salsa roja and buttermilk mix, pushing the sauce in between the leaves. Stir the lime zest, juice, spring onions and a quarter-teaspoon of flaked salt through the corn mix, spoon this all over the lettuce and serve warm or at room temperature.
French beans & Mangetout with hazelnut & orange
Green beans are so popular at Ottolenghi that we seem to be constantly on the lookout for new combinations. Orange and hazelnut go wonderfully well together. They offer a good balance of freshness and earthiness and the flavours are subtle enough to complement the beans without overpowering them. The beans can be cooked and chilled a day in advance and then dressed before serving. Sugarsnaps, green peas and broad beans can substitute any of the other two beans or be added to the salad.
- 400g French beans
- 400g mangetout
- 70g unskinned hazelnuts
- 1 orange
- 20g chives, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp hazelnut oil (or another nut oil, if unavailable)
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
- Using a small, sharp knife, trim the stalk ends off the French beans and the mangetout, keeping the two separate. Bring plenty of unsalted water to the boil in a large saucepan - you need lots of space for the beans, as this is crucial for preserving their colour. Blanch the French beans in the water for 4 minutes, then drain into a colander and run them under plenty of tap water until cold. Leave to drain and dry. Repeat with the mangetout, but blanch for only 1 minute.
- While the beans are cooking, scatter the hazelnuts over a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Leave until cool enough to handle, then rub them in a clean tea-towel to get rid of most of the skin. Chop the nuts with a large, sharp knife. They should be quite rough; some can even stay whole. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in strips, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.
- Slice each piece of zest into very thin strips (if you have a citrus zester, you could do the whole job with that).
- To assemble the dish, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, toss gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature.
Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt
The inspiration for this was Sarah's grandmother ("nan") Dulcie in Tasmania, who always used to add some honey to the pan before roasting her carrots. I'm not sure what Dulcie would have thought about a tahini yogurt sauce served alongside, but the sweetness of the carrots certainly welcomes it. Make this extra vibrant by using different-colored carrots.
- Scant 3 tablespoons/40 g tahini paste
- 2/3 cup/130 g Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, crushed salt
- Scant 3 tablespoons/60 g honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
- 3 thyme sprigs
- Salt and black pepper
- 12 large carrots, peeled and each cut crosswise into two 2 1/2-inch/6-cm batons (3 pounds/1.3 kg)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
Place all the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together and set aside.
Place the honey, oil, coriander and cumin seeds, and thyme in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add the carrots and mix well until coated, then spread them out on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, stirring gently once or twice, until cooked through and glazed.
Transfer the carrots to a large serving platter or individual plates. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of sauce on top, scattered with the cilantro.