Plenty & Plenty More: Tomato & Roasted Lemon Salad + The Ultimate Winter Couscous

Ever since I happened upon my fascination with cooking and the wonder of food, I seem to be accumulating cookbooks at a faster rate than I could have ever anticipated. At the current rate, I receive at least 1-2 cookbooks per holiday (birthday, Christmas, Russian Christmas) and each fills my shelves with great pride and the glimmering prospect of future enjoyment. This year, I happily received Plenty More, another brilliant work stemming from the mind of Yotam Ottolengthi. I have profiled quite a few of his vegetarian recipes, of which are robust with herbs and spices and complement the unique flavor affinities found within them. The recipes found within Plenty More (and Plenty, for that matter) have positively shifted my approach to what Ottolengthi calls “New Vegetarian” cooking and have deeply influenced my own culinary landscapes. For those reasons alone, I will undoubtedly conquer and amass a large number of jewels that I mine from Plenty More (64 are currently scribbled onto my trusty post-it notes).

As promised, this post encompasses a hearty, but healthy and complex dish in the form of  Yotam’s “The Ultimate Winter Cous Cous”. I drew from Yotam’s previous work in Plenty to muster up this masterful take on Israeli couscous with root and winter vegetables. And while it is January, I still long for the fresh flavors of summer, so I chopped, blanched, roasted, chopped, diced, and stirred my way to the creation of his “Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad” from Plenty More. The tomato salad is akin to one you might craft during the summer months, when tomatoes are lush and sweet in flavor, balanced by tart lemon slices and fruitful herbs. Pomegranate seeds add aesthetics, while the sage accompaniment to the lemon adds a twist only Ottolengthi is capable of pulling off. The two dishes pair well together and additionally, are a delight to the eyes.

Carrots, parsnips, shallots, and chickpeas round out the base of the couscous dish, alongside dried apricots, which add some sweetness and balance to the aforementioned vegetables and beans. Cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, ground ginger, turmeric, hot paprika, chile flakes, saffron, and harissa blend together for a truly unforgettable, warming winter meal. The result is a memorable melding of flavors, texture, and fragrances. Top with cilantro, for your body and senses will thank you.

Oh — and leftovers never looked and tasted so good, on both accounts. More Yotam Ottolengthi magic soon.

Tomato & Roasted Lemon Salad
Recipe from Yotam Ottolengthi’s Plenty More
Serves four

2 medium lemons, halved crosswise, seeds removed, and cut into paper-thin slices
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
8 sage leaves, finely shredded
2 2/3 cups baby tomatoes, yellow or red or a mixture of both, halved
scant 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/3 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 c. mint leaves
2/3 c. pomegranate seeds
1 1/2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (I omitted this)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the lemon slices, and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain well, place the lemon in a bowl, and add 1 tbsp. of the oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, the sugar, and the sage. Gently mix and then spread the lemon mixture out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until the lemons have dried out a little. Remove and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, allspice, parsley, mint, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, onion, the remaining 2 tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Add the lemon slices, stir gently, and serve.

The Ultimate Winter Couscous
Recipe from Yotam Ottolengthi’s Plenty
Serves 4 or more

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 in. chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeeled and cut into 3/4 in. chunks
8 shallots, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp. olive oil
Salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. hot paprika
1/4 tsp. chile flakes
2 1/2 c. cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
1/2 c. dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 c. chickpeas (plus 1 1/2 c. chickpea cooking liquid and/or water)
1 c. couscous
large pinch of Saffron
1 c. boiling vegetable stock
3 tbsp. butter, broken into pieces
2 tbsp. harissa (or other red chile paste)
lemon juice
2 c. cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the carrots, parsnips, and shallots in a large ovenproof dish. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 4 tbsp. of the oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and all the other spices and mix well. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin (or butternut squash), stir and return to the oven. Continue cooking for about 35 minutes, by which time the vegetables should have softened while retaining a bite. Now add the dried apricots and the chickpeas with their cooking liquid and/or water. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until hot.

About 15 minutes before the vegetables are ready, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl with the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, the saffron, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for about 10 minutes. Then add the butter and fluff up the couscous with a fork until the butter melts in. Cover again and leave somewhere warm.

To serve, spoon couscous into a deep plate or bowl. Stir the harissa and preserved lemon into the vegetables; taste and add salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables onto the center of the couscous. Finish with plenty of cilantro leaves.

For more Yotam Ottolengthi Plenty recipes that I’ve profiled, click below:

Mango & Coconut Rice Salad

Watermelon & Feta Salad and Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes

Yotam Ottolengthi’s Ratatouille 

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