Twists with pantry staples

Authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad. PHOTO: ELENA HEATHERWICK
Authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad. PHOTO: ELENA HEATHERWICK
How to cleverly utilise your kitchen finds while putting a delicious meal on the table.

THE BOOK: Extracted from Ottolenghi Test  Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi ...
THE BOOK: Extracted from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press, $55)All photography by Elena Heatherwick.
That is what the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, aka OTK, is all about.

Inspired by the Covid-19 lockdowns in the United Kingdom, chef Yotam Ottolenghi got together his team from the test kitchen led by Noor Murad to put out a book Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love.

‘‘We did what we all do best, and began creating recipes based on what we had in our store cupboards and fridges, our freezers and pantries.’’

He says to create the book they broke down their kitchens, pulling ingredients apart to put them back together again — cohesive dishes based on kitchen finds.

‘‘There is a ‘this for that’ ethos here; the understanding that, in this new world, the need to improvise, to roll with the punches, is more crucial than ever before.’’

So the book is broken down into chapters based on the one shelf at the back of your pantry, the vege box, who does the dishes (one-pan dishes), fridge raid, the freezer is your friend and at the very end (sweet things).

‘‘It’s food that we cook at home, for our friends and families, comforting but with a slight edge, a little twist, a ‘‘cheffy’’ addition’’.

The idea being that they are showing cooks the rules, but also how to break them.

‘‘We want this book to be that book, the most haggard looking on your shelves.’’

Grilled courgettes with warm yoghurt and saffron butter 

Serves 2-4

Prep time 10 min

Cook time 30 min

This recipe is inspired by kousa b’flaban, a Levantine dish of stuffed baby marrow cooked in yoghurt. In this simplified version the yoghurt sauce and grilled courgettes are cooked separately, then served with a quick saffron butter to spoon on top.

There’s a bit of an art to cooking yoghurt without having it curdle; stabilisers such as cornflour and egg yolk tend to do the trick, as does cooking the yoghurt on a moderate heat, stirring continuously and gently warming through without boiling. The result: a silky-smooth and tangy sauce, great for these courgettes but also with other grilled veges, fatty meats or even as a sauce to pasta.

30g unsalted butter

¼ tsp saffron threads, roughly crushed

4 small, pale green or regular courgettes, tops trimmed slightly and courgettes halved lengthways (600g)

2 ½ Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cornflour

300g Greek-style yoghurt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½ tsp dried mint

¾ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar

1 ½ tbsp picked mint leaves

½ lemon

salt and black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to a high grill setting.

2. Put the butter and saffron into a small saucepan on a medium heat. When the butter has melted, set aside to infuse.

3. Place the courgettes on a parchment-lined baking tray and toss with 2 tablespoons of oil, ⅓teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Arrange them cut side up and grill for 15–20 minutes, until nicely charred and softened.

4. Towards the last 10 minutes of grilling time, make the sauce. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornflour and 3tablespoons of water until smooth, then add the yoghurt, garlic, dried mint, the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine, then transfer to a large, non-stick saute pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly and warmed through. Do not let the sauce boil, or it will split.

5. Transfer the warm yoghurt sauce to a plate with a lip and top with the courgettes, grilled side up. Spoon over the saffron butter, then sprinkle with the coriander seeds and mint leaves. Squeeze over the lemon half and serve right away.

Curried cauliflower cheese filo pie 

Serves 4, generously

Prep time 20 min

Cook time1 hr 45min

Cauliflower cheese, but make it pie. This dish was once described as ‘‘molten-hot-cheese-lava’’ and we think that’s pretty fitting for the ultimate comfort of comfort foods.

1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (700g)

2 tsp mild curry powder

3 Tbsp olive oil

100g unsalted butter, (50g cut into roughly 3cm cubes and 50g melted)

75g plain flour

675ml whole milk

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 ½ Tbsp English mustard

150g mature cheddar, roughly grated

6 sheets of good-quality

filo pastry (we use feuilles de filo)

salt and black pepper

1 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley, to serve

1½ tsp lemon zest, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 180degC fan. Line the bottom and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Put the cauliflower on a large, parchment-lined baking tray and toss with the curry powder, half the oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly coloured.

Set aside, and turn the oven temperature down to 170degC fan.

3. Meanwhile, make the bechamel. Put the cubed butter into a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat and, once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1to 2 minutes – it should start to smell nutty (like popcorn).

Turn the heat down to medium and slowly add the milk a little at a time, whisking continuously to prevent any lumps, until incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Cook, whisking often, for about 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Off the heat, stir in the garlic, mustard, cheese and . teaspoon of salt until the cheese has melted.

4. Keep your filo sheets under a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out. In a bowl, combine the melted butter and the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil and keep to one side.

5. Working one sheet at a time, brush the exposed side of the filo with the butter mixture and drape it into your prepared tin (buttered side up), pushing it down gently to fit. Continue in this way with the next filo sheet, brushing it with butter and then laying it over the bottom sheet, rotating it slightly so the overhang drapes over the sides at a different angle. Do this with all six sheets.

6. Spoon half the bechamel into the base and top with the roasted cauliflower florets. Spoon over the remaining bechamel, then crimp up the overhang so that it creates a messy ‘‘scrunched-up’’ border around the edges, leaving the centre of the pie exposed.

7. Brush the top of the filo border with the remaining butter mixture, then transfer the tin to a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.

8. Using a tea towel to help you, carefully release the outer circle of the springform tin and return the pie to the oven for another 20–25 minutes, or until the sides are nicely coloured and everything is golden and bubbling. Leave to settle for 15 minutes.

9. Top the pie with the parsley and lemon zest and serve warm.

Sticky miso bananas with lime and toasted rice 

Serves 4

Prep time 5 min

Cook time 30 min

This dessert ticks all our flavour boxes – sweet, salty, tangy and umami – and all our texture boxes – sticky, crunchy and creamy. The bananas you use should have almost completely yellow skin, with only the tiniest bit of brown spotting.

40g unsalted butter

70g light soft brown sugar

½ tsp ground star anise

3 Tbsp creme fraiche

1½ Tbsp white miso

4 medium bananas (medium ripe), peeled and halved lengthways

1 lime: finely grate the zest to get 1 tsp and then juice to get 1 tsp

Toasted rice topping

1 Tbsp Thai sticky rice (raw), or jasmine rice 2 tsp black sesame seeds

½ tsp ground star anise


1. Set the oven to its highest grill setting.

2. Make the topping. Toast the rice in a small frying pan on a medium heat for 12–15 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until deeply golden. Blitz in a spice or coffee grinder until fine, then transfer to a small bowl.

Return the pan to a medium-high heat and add the sesame seeds.

Toast for 1 minute, then stir into the rice bowl along with the star anise. Set aside.

3. Put the butter, sugar, star anise and half the creme fraiche into a large, ovenproof cast-iron pan (or a large saute pan) on a medium heat. Stir the mixture frequently, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, then, off the heat, whisk in the miso until smooth.

Add the bananas, cut side up, using a spoon to coat the tops with some of the caramel, then transfer to the oven and grill for about 8 minutes (this will vary, depending on your grill, so check them at the 7-minute mark), or until the bananas have softened and are lightly browned.

4. While the bananas are grilling, mix the remaining creme fraiche with the lime juice. When ready, spoon this all over the bananas, then sprinkle with the lime zest and a tablespoon of the rice topping. Serve immediately with the extra rice topping alongside.


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