After one last sip of champagne, we’re collectively about to lay down the cheesy appetizers and cookies that sustained us through December and trade them in for big bowls of salad, platefuls of roasted vegetables and after work trips to the gym. If that transition seems tough, there’s hardly a book better than Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem to inspire you. Currently ranked #57 on Amazon’s bestseller list, it’s clearly a book a lot of us got for Christmas and Hanukkah.
Everything, and I mean everything, in this book looks fantastic. Even vegetables I don’t usually care much for, like eggplant and okra, are enticingly photographed. Not knowing where exactly to start, I took Emmy’s (of Emmy Cooks) advice and started with the roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar. Spoiler alert: It’s DELICIOUS.
Not only is this butternut dish delicious, it’s dead simple. Crank up the oven to 475 and 30-40 minutes later you have a pile of tender, intensely flavored butternut squash and onions….which you then arrange on a platter, dress with a little tahini dressing and sprinkle on some za’atar and toasted pinenuts. That’s it.
For a light dinner, we had it alongside some quinoa tabbouleh w/ chickpeas. Protein, veggies and no animal fats. These new year’s, um, action items aren’t gonna be so tough after all. (I don’t make resolutions, so we won’t use that word).
Incidentally, the book isn’t vegetarian – it has meat and fish sections, as well as beans and grains, savory pastries and desserts. But the vegetables chapter is what captured my attention first, particularly since I’m cutting back some on meat. With Ottolenghi’s previous book, Plenty, I find myself looking to it for inspiration, but not often cooking directly from it. I can already tell that won’t be the case with Jerusalem. I’ve already picked up the ingredients for both the Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Fennel as well as the Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta.
If you’re interested, Carol Sacks of in medias recipe has been cooking from the book over the last few weeks, sharing her results on Twitter (@casacks) and with the LA Times #weekendeats crew on Monday mornings.