Ottolenghi Recipes on Masterchef

If you have been following the new season of Masterchef, Yotam Ottolenghi was featured in a recent episode where the contestants had to cook from his vegetarian recipes. I have listed the recipes below here. Sometimes Ottolenghi recipes are a bit complicated and uses a lot of ingredients, the end results is always superb.

These are the recipes that were cooked:

  • Stuffed onion skins (Plenty)
  • Sweetcorn polenta, with feta, aubergine, tomato and oregano sauce
  • Chilli and black pepper tofu (Plenty)
  • Grilled vegetables and haloumi salad

Note: All the recipes can be found in these fab Ottolenghi Cookbooks.

Stuffed Onion Skins from Plenty -Serves 4

500ml veg stock
350ml white wine
4 large onions
3 small tomatoes
120g white breadcrumbs
90g feta, crumbled
80g parsley leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 spring onions, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

Some butter, for greasing the dish

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a baking dish with butter.

Combine the wine and stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. While this is happening, trim the top and bottom from the onions, cut them lengthways in half and remove the skin. Carefully remove most of the insides to leave 3 or 4 outer layers of onion. Carefully separate these. Turn the stock to a simmer and put the onion layers in it, a few at a time. Cook them for 3-4 minutes or until just tender then set aside. Keep the stock.

To make the stuffing, grate the tomatoes into a bowl using a coarse cheese grater. Most of the skin will be left behind in your hands and you can discard it.

Add the feta, breadcrumbs, parsley, olive oil, spring onions, salt and some pepper. Mix well.

Fill each onion layer generously and roll into a ‘fat cigar shape’. Place fold side down in the dish. Pour over about 75ml of the stock.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until they are brown and charred in places and bubbling underneath. You can add more stock if they look like they’re drying up during cooking. Serve warm.


Sweetcorn Polenta – serves 4

6 corn ears (560g scraped kernels)
500ml water
40g butter
200g feta, crumbled
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the aubergine sauce

150ml vegetable oil
1 medium aubergine, in 2cm dice
2 tsp tomato paste
60ml white wine
200g chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or tinned)
100ml water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped oregano, plus whole leaves to garnish

First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the aubergine on medium heat for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain and discard as much oil as you can. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for two minutes on medium heat. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano, and cook for five minutes, to get a deep flavoured sauce. Set aside.

To make the polenta, chop the very top and bottom off every corn ear. Stand the ear on its base, and use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels. Place the kernels in a medium-sized saucepan and pour in the water, to cover. Add half the butter and cook on a low simmer for 12 minutes. Lift out the kernels with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a food processor. Process for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. If the mixture is too dry to process, add a little of the cooking water.

Return the corn paste to the water pan and, over low heat and stirring all the while, cook again for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mashed potato. Now fold in the remaining butter, feta, salt and pepper, and cook for two minutes longer. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Divide the polenta into shallow bowls and spoon some warm sauce in the centre. Garnish the aubergine sauce with picked oregano leaves and serve hot.


Chilli and black pepper tofu (Plenty)

800g firm, fresh tofu
Cornflour, to dust the tofu
Vegetable oil, for frying
150g butter
12 small shallots (350g), peeled and thinly sliced
8 red chillies, thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped ginger
5 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
3 tbsp sweet soy sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
16 small, thin spring onions, cut into segments 3cm long

Cut the tofu into 3cm x 2cm blocks and toss them in cornflour, shaking off the excess. Pour in enough oil to come 0.5cm up the sides of a large frying pan, and bring up to frying heat. Fry the tofu in batches in the oil, turning the pieces as you go. Once they are golden all around, and have a thin crust, transfer to a paper towel.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan and throw in the butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan are shiny and totally soft. While you wait, crush the peppercorns, using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. They should be quite coarse.

When the shallots and chillies are soft, add the soy sauces and the sugar, stir, then stir in the crushed pepper. Warm the tofu in the sauce for about a minute, then add the spring onion and stir through. Serve hot with steamed rice.


Grilled vegetables and haloumi salad (Plenty)

serves 4

350g cherry tomatoes, halved
140ml olive oil
coarse sea salt and black pepper
24 asparagus
2 courgettes
200g haloumi cheese, sliced 2cm thick (original recipe uses manouri cheese)
25g rocket

For the basil oil:
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25g basil leaves
a pinch of salt
¼ tsp black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/ gas mark 3. Mix the tomatoes with three tablespoons of olive oil and season. Spread them out, skin-side down, on a baking tray lined with parchment, and roast for 40 minutes, until semi-dried. Set aside to cool.

2. Prepare the asparagus by trimming the woody bases and blanch in boiling water for four minutes. Then drain, refresh in cold water until cooled,then drain. Then transfer to a bowl and toss with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.

3. Slice the courgettes very thinly lengthwise (a mandolin would be very useful for this job, otherwise use a vegetable peeler) and mix with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Heat up a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave for a few minutes until very hot. Grill the courgettes and asparagus, turning after a minute – you want nice char marks on all sides. remove and leave to cool.

5. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and fry the haloumi for three minutes a side, until golden. drain on kitchen paper. (or char-grill the cheese on the griddle for two minutes a side.)

6. For the basil oil, blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

6. Arrange the rocket, vegetables and cheese in layers on a flat serving plate – build up the salad while showing all the individual components. Drizzle with as much basil oil as you like (you can store any extra in the fridge)  and serve.

You can read about the London cooking club where we all made recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbooks.



The Fabulous London Cooking Club – Ottolenghi Night

You can find the Masterchef Ottolenghi Recipes here.

The fabulous Luiz Hara of hosts these dinner parties under the banner of The London Cooking Club where he invites friends and readers of his blog to participate in these really International foodie fests.   Each cooking club evening is themed to either a cookbook or a type of cuisine like Syrian and Japanese. This particular evening, the theme was Ottolenghi and all the dishes are from the 2 Ottolenghi cook books, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Plenty.

London Cooking Club

Most of the guests at the cooking club don’t know each other so it’s a nice surprise element to the evening as you never know who you might meet there. A menu is suggested for the evening and everyone has to cook one of the dishes for the dinner party. On this particular evening, we also had Alistair who was the AP photographer taking some photos for an article featuring Luiz on London Supper Clubs which got syndicated all over the web.

You would have thought that so many cooks in one kitchen would be tricky but as most dishes were prepared off site and finished here, together with Luiz’s meticulous organisation, the evening ran like a well oiled machine. This was the menu that Luiz put together for the evening :


1. The very moreish Sweet Potato Galettes (Ottolenghi 181), made by Patrice, a Mauritian prop trader. This was really delicious and was accompanied by a demi sec Cava.

Ottolenghi - Sweet Potato Galettes


2. Green Gazpacho (Plenty 180) with Pear Crostini (Plenty 278) which was meticulously prepared by Kelly, newly arrived from Sydney where she used to run the Food Safari. The griddled pears with melting goats cheese with crusty crostini went really well with the herby Gazpacho, accompanied by the chilled bottle of Manzanilla sherry.

Green Gazpacho with Pear Crostini


3. Dr G made this Caramelised Garlic Tart (Plenty 38), made with 4 heads of caramelised garlic, thyme, balsamic, 2 types of goats cheese and cream. This was so delicious and is definitely one that I am going to try again at home.

Caramelised Garlic Tart,

4. Chargrilled Asparagus, courgettes Manouri (Ottolenghi 33) was made by Cara (@Gourmetchick) who carried this beautiful bowl all across London. This dish was the perfect accompaniment to the garlic tart.

Char-grilled Asparagus, courgettes & Manouri Salad
5. “Char-grilled Seafood, Fennel & Lime Salad” was another dish that Dr G prepared. Loved the zingy flavours of the seafood with lime juice. I could have had lots more of this but had to pace myself for the main courses to come.

Char-grilled Seafood, Fennel & Lime Salad

Char-grilled Seafood, Fennel & Lime Salad


6. Harissa Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad (Ottolenghi 119c) which was chicken marinated with spicy harissa, prepared by Gerald, an interior designer from Austria. He was a trained chef and he brought along a Rose to go with his dish.

Harissa Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad"

7.We could smell the heady aroma of Roast Pork Belly with Spiced Red Plum, Ginger Rhubarb Relish (Ottolenghi 114/115) all through the earlier courses and the experience certainly matched the anticipation. This was the first cooking club experience for Hugh O’Leare’s and his pork dish and the relish was a big hit.

Roast Pork Belly with Spiced Red Plum, Ginger & Rhubarb Relish

8. Marinated Aubergines with Tahini Oregano (Ottolenghi 26) was lovingly made by banker, Linda. She painstakingly made her own tahini to go into the sauce for this dish and has to be applauded as the flavours were amazing and had to be tasted to be appreciated.

Marinated Aubergines with Tahini & Oregano

9. French Beans Mangetout with Hazelnut Orange (Ottolenghi 37) and Etti’s Herb Salad (Ottolenghi 23) is regularly on Luiz’s menu. It might look deceptively simple but the combination of ingredients makes it more than a side dish. Hazelnut oil, orange blossom water, chives, dry roasted hazelnuts, thinly sliced orange peel turns a simple vegetable dish into a real winner.

French Beans & Mange-tout with Hazelnut & Orange

10. I made this dish to go with the main courses -Kosheri (mix of couscous, vermicelli noodles lentils – Ottolenghi 85) or Green Couscous (Plenty 225). It looks deceptively simple but used up about 4 pots and pans and took a bit longer than anticipated as there were several stages to this dish. I did improvise with some of the ingredients like I used Chinese rice vermicelli, canned tomatoes ( but had to guess the quantities) and made lots more fried onions to go with it. It turned out to be quite a rich rice dish with the butter playing a starring role to the mixture of textures of rice and lentils. See the Kosheri recipe below.



11. The end of this marathon meal was topped by this unctious Orange Polenta Cake (Ottolenghi 195) which Elizabeth Truss made. We were totally ignorant as when she said she did something in politics, little did we know that she meant she was  a Tory MP in Norfolk. I had brought along a Veneto Dessert Wine made by Pieropan (1999) which I thought would be an nice match for the pudding.

Orange Polenta Cake

If you like to cook, love to eat, are adventurous without too many foodie hangups, you should sign up for one of the future cooking clubs that Luiz is hosting. It was a truly memorable and International food and social evening, as always Luiz and Dr G were the perfect hosts.

Kosheri recipe from the Ottolenghi The Cookbook

According to the book, this lentil and rice dish is one of the most popular in Egypt and is sold by street vendors and specialist restaurants. It is quite similar to the Indian Kitchari or the kedgeree which is also a derivation of kitchari in the first place. This is usually served with a spicy tomato sauce and sometimes a cucumber, tomato and yoghurt salad.

The list of ingredients might look daunting but it is actually quite easy to make. Just know that it takes up quite a few pans but the finished product is well worth the effort.


300g green lentils

200g basmati rice
40g unsalted butter
50g vermicelli noodles, broken into 4cm pieces ( I used chinese rice vermicelli and it puffed up nicely.)
400ml chicken stock or water
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4tbsp olive oil
2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

For the sauce
4tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 hot red chilies, seeded and finely diced
8 ripe tomatoes, chopped (tinned are fine)  - I used one tin of tomatoes instead
370ml water – Add the water to taste as this much made it really watery
4tbsp cider vinegar – I might reduce the vinegar too as it seemed too strong
3tsp salt
2tsp ground cumin
20g coriander leaves, chopped

Start with the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt and cumin. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 min, until slightly thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the coriander and then taste. See if you want to add any salt, pepper or extra coriander. Keep hot, or leave to cool; both ways will work with the hot kosheri. Just remember to adjust the seasoning again when cold.

To make the kosheri, place the lentils in a large sieve and wash them under a cold running tap. Transfer to a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 min. The lentils should be tender, but far from mushy. Drain in a colander and leave to one side.

In a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water, wash and then drain well. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the raw vermicelli, stir and continue frying and stirring until the vermicelli turns golden brown. Add the drained rice and mix well until it is coated in the butter. Now add the stock or water, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper Bring to the boil, cover and then reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer for 12 min. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and put the lid back on. Leave like that for about 5 min; this helps to make the rice light and fluffy.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and sauté over a medium heat for about 20 min, until dark brown. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain.

To serve, lightly break up the rice with a fork, and then add the lentils, and most of the onions, reserving a few for garnish. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Pile the rice high on a serving platter and top with the remaining onions. Serve hot, with the tomato sauce.