Tag: plenty

Soba Noodles with Mango and Eggplant

Soba noodles, eggplant, onion, mango, cilantro, basil, and dressing all tossed into a bowl.

Jonah slices and dices all the colorful ingredients for the soba noodles.
It feels very weird to spread a pile of noodles on a dish towel to dry... But I'll do pretty much anything Ottolenghi tell me to.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jonah and I made dinner for my mom and her boyfriend back in December. Now I believe I have told you of my love for Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Plenty,” yes? This meal was no exception. The meal was all vegetarian, and 2/3 dishes were from that cookbook. The meal was light, refreshing, and packed with flavor. Not to mention the great company.

I fear that I am reaching a point where I cannot keep posting variations of these recipes, I just need to tell you to please, please, please go buy this cookbook. Even if vegetarian food isn’t your thing, even if the photos don’t make your stomach growl, even if the lists of ingredients leave you with questions swirling around in your hear. I beg you. Just go buy it. And then, please proceed to make everything in it, even if it doesn’t jump off the page. Every single dish I have made from this book (as well as his other book, “Jerusalem”) has been so lovely and flavorful that I wish I had tripled them all so I could enjoy the leftovers or share with a bunch of my friends.

Back to the dinner. These room temperature soba noodles are one of the few recipes in the book that did jump off the page for me. But somehow, I still hadn’t made it. While it’s a little prep-heavy, trust me, it’s worth it. Packing a lot of flavor and lots of little bites with different tastes (onion, eggplant, peppers, mango, the list goes on…), this recipe is bound to be a crowd pleaser. I can see it being especially good for kids. What kids don’t love noodles and mango? That’s what I thought: none.

Soba Noodles with Mango and Eggplant


1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 of a red chile, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
zest and juice of a lime
1 cup sunflower oil (we used canola)
2 eggplants, cut into ~1 inch cubes
a bag of soba noodles
1 large ripe mango (let’s be honest, more than one probably couldn’t hurt…), cut into ~3/4 inch cubes or thin strips
1 2/3 cups fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (think paper thin, if you can)


In small pot, warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar just dissolves. Remove from heat, then add the garlic, chile, and sesame oil, and, once it’s cool, the lime zest and juice.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil and fry up the eggplant. You’ll probably need to do this in a few batches. But you want the eggplant to be nice and golden brown. After all the eggplant is cooked, put it in a colander in the sink, sprinkle (“liberally”) with salt, and leave to drain.

While cooking the eggplant, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water – you want them to be soft, but still a little al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water to stop them cooking. Spread them on a dish towel to dry.

Now the fun part: throw the noodles, dressing, mango, eggplant, onion, and half the basil and cilantro in a bowl and toss to coat/combine everything. You can make this a couple hours ahead of serving, and stop here, letting it sit to absorb flavors and come to room temperature. When you’re ready to serve it, add the rest of the herbs. Enjoy!

Mom's dinner prep activities: playing tug-of-war with Lulu while Jonah and I chopped and sauteed in the kitchen a few feet away.


Shakshuka for breakfast! Looks amazing.

I have discovered possibly the best Israeli-inspired brunch dish of all time. You think that’s a really specific category? It’s not. I know this because I now have two whole cookbooks from chef Yotam Ottolenghi (“Plenty” and “Jerusalem”). Born and raised in, guess where, Jerusalem, Ottolenghi moved to London in 1998 where he has a deli chain and a restaurant (or two… I’m not positive). Anyway, last year, my mom gave Jonah “Plenty” for his birthday, and while the pictures are absolutely beautiful and the food looks delicious, the recipes are a little intimidating. Lots of kind of obscure ingredients like muscovado sugar and tamarind paste and harissa. So we made maybe one or two things from it. But in the last year, we have grown much more ambitious in the kitchen, so when I was in Berkeley visiting my sister and I saw “Jerusalem” (and it’s latke recipe, which I will sharing with you shortly) I wanted it. Badly. And guess what. I got it. For my birthday. From my sister. Because my family is awesome and gifts each other beautiful cookbooks and kitchen appliances.

Anyway, when I was home for Thanksgiving, my dad made the shakshuka out of “Plenty” for brunch one morning. (Let it be noted that there is ALSO a shakshuka recipe in “Jerusalem” and that they are, indeed, different.) Now, as one who has only recently grown to love bell peppers, I was skeptical about liking this dish. It is, afterall, mostly bell peppers. But oh my gosh you guys. Go make this NOW. It’s so amazing. Really complex flavors (thanks saffron and muscovado sugar), brilliant colors, and delicious leftovers. Best enjoyed with some crusty bread (think rye or a French batard or something like that).


Serves 4 generously


1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil (I would maybe do a little less than this, but try it and see what you think)
2 large onions, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced into 3/4-inch slices
2 yellow bell peppers, same preparation
4 tsp muscovado sugar (yes, it’s an obscure ingredient, but now I want to put it in everything)
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs worth of thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbl chopped parsley
2 Tbl chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (if it’s not tomato season, 2 small cans of canned tomatoes will work perfectly, but I would recommend draining most if not all of the juice first.)
1/2 tsp saffron threads
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper
up to 1 1/8 cups water
4-8 eggs


In a very large pan (seriously, probably the biggest pan you’ve got is a good idea), dry roast the cumin seeds on high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the oil and onions, and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add the peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and cilantro, and keep cooking it on high heat for 5-10 minutes, until everything is starting to get some nice color to it.

Now add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, and a bit of salt and pepper. Bring the heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes. If you aren’t using canned tomatoes, keep adding water during this time so that the mix has kind of a chunky spaghetti sauce consistency. Because the canned tomatoes were pretty juice and I didn’t drain them completely, I found no need to add water. Give the mixture a taste, and adjust the seasoning as you see fit. More salt? More pepper? More muscovado sugar? Go nuts.

After 15 minutes on low heat, go ahead and remove the bay leaves. Now Ottolenghi has you divide the mixture among 4 little frying pans, but let’s face it, I’m not going to unnecessarily dirty 4 extra dishes. If it’s a fancy breakfast and you’ve got those adorable mini cast-iron skillets, maybe that’s your thing. But I just kept it all in the same one big pan for this part. Make some gaps in the pepper mix, and break one egg into each gap. (I surveyed my crowd to see how many eggs we each wanted, so I did 6.) Sprinkle with some salt and cover the pan with a lid (or tightly with some foil, if your pan doesn’t have a lid). Cook on “a very (!) gentle heat” for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. A runny yolk is preferable. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with some crusty bread. Enjoy! I promise, once you make this, you’ll come up with a million excuses/occasions to repeat it. It’s so delicious. And as I said, it makes great leftovers because the flavors just get to deepen even more.

Brussels Sprouts and Tofu

brussels sprouts
brussels sprouts and tofu

brussels sprouts, tofu, and rice.

I hated Brussels sprouts as a kid, as most kids do.  I remember my mom making them on occasion, usually steamed with butter melted on them.  She was the only one who ate them.

(Also, “Brussels sprouts??” I was under the impression until about 2 weeks ago that it was “Brussel sprouts.”)

Now that I am a so-called “adult,” I have only become slightly more receptive to these small green balls of vegetable. However, this recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi has me almost craving them.  The best part about it is the way they are fried: with lots of oil and salt, face down on hight heat for a couple of minutes.  One side gets black and crispy, one side is still green.

Also, with the addition of tofu, this recipe makes a meal in one bowl!

Brussels Sprouts and Tofu


2 Tbs sweet chile sauce (the most common brand is Mae Ploy, we had a bottle in the fridge that was “borrowed” from our cafeteria back in college)
1 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs toasted sesame oil (don’t skip this! It makes the dish)
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbs maple syrup
5 oz firm tofu
1 lb Brussels sprouts
about 3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 small fresh red chile, deseeded and minced (we used a jalapeño, so it was green.  Whoops.)
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, halved or quarted
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)

Rice for serving


Find a medium bowl and in it, whisk together the sweet chile and soy sauces, 2 Tbs of the sesame oil, the vinegar and maple syrup. Cut the tofu into 3/8-inch-thick slices and then each slice into two squarish pieces.  Stir the tofu into the marinade and set aside.

Trim the bottoms off the Brussels sprouts and cut each into three slices from the top down.  Find a large frying pan, add 4 Tbs of canola oil, and heat up well.  Throw in half the Brussels spouts, or less than depending on the size of your pan (when I did this the oil spit like crazy, so watch out!).  You want most the sprouts in the pan to have at least one side touching the pan, so no sprouts are stacked on top of one another.  Sprinkle some salt on them and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes.  Don’t stir to much, but shake it around if necessary.  You want the sprouts to be almost burnt on one side. Remove to a bowl and add the rest of the sprouts to the pan with more canola oil.  Add more salt, and 2 minutes later, transfer the rest to the bowl as well.

Add 2 more Tbs of canola oil to the pan and sauté the green onions, minced chili, and mushrooms for 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl that the sprouts are in.

Leave the pan on high heat and use tongs to lift half of the tofu pieces from the marinade to the pan (again, oil spits!) (don’t throw away marinade!). Space them apart and leave in one layer so that they can fry properly.  Reduce to medium heat and cook for 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer to the sprouts bowl and repeat with the rest of the tofu.

Remove the pan from the heat and return all the cooked ingredients from the spouts bowl back to the pan.  Add the leftover tofu marinade and half of the cilantro leaves.  Toss everything together, and let the pan cool down a bit.  Then taste and add salt if needed.  Stir in the remaining Tbs of sesame oil and serve warm, garnished with sesame seeds and/or the rest of the cilantro.  Eat with rice or by itself.

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Pomegranate seeds for the Eggplant with buttermilk sauce

Eggplant with buttermilk sauce

Eggplant with buttermilk sauce

The posting of the recipe is long overdue, as I made this dish quite a while ago.  So I may not remember the exact details of everything I did to make this – but here goes.  Have I told you about the unprecedented influx of cookbooks in Annie and I’s apartment?  I went from owning exactly zero cookbooks before Christmas and my birthday this year (Jan 6) to having 4.  That’s a 400% increase in cookbooks within the span of a month!  Anyway, Annie’s mom got me this great cookbook called Plenty, that has some fantastically new and different recipes. This is one of them.

A picture of this eggplant with buttermilk sauce recipe is on the cover of the Plenty cookbook, so I decided to make it.  It looked like nothing I had ever tasted before, and that’s what it ended up tasting like!

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce


2 eggplants
1/2 cup olive oil
4-6 thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
1 pomegranate (this is the fun part)
For the sauce:
9 Tbs buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1.5 Tbs olive oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise (see photo below). Now cut some lengthwise incisions on each half, but not all the way through to the skin. This is just to let the oil and juices get around. Make some more diagonal incisions (I sort of did this like you would cut an avocado before you scoop the flesh out).

Place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet, and brush them with the 1/2 cup olive oil until it’s all used up.  Sprinkle with some thyme leaves and salt and pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes, when the eggplant flesh should be soft and browned.

While the eggplant is roasting away, let’s do something fun. To get all the seeds out without digging through the fruit like a raccoon, start by cutting the pomegranate in half.  Hold one half over a bowl with the flesh side facing down into your hand (watch out, your fingers are about to get juicy). Use the back of a wooden spoon and start whacking the back of the pomegranate gently, and then with increased force, until the seeds start to fall out into the bowl.  Don’t lose faith if seeds don’t start raining down right away: it takes a minute for them to start getting loose. It helps to flip the pomegranate half over once in a while to gently pull the membranes apart and pick them out. Do the same thing with the other half.

Make the sauce by whisking all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.  I used Greek yogurt that was honey-flavored, which may have been a mistake.

When the eggplant halves are done, serve by spooning plenty of the sauce over the halves.  Sprinkle your expertly-harvested pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with some more thyme and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

The taste was amazing – a combination of things I have never tasted in combination before!