My second attempt at Ottolenghi’s signature chargrilled broccoli dish. For those who aren’t aware, Yotam Ottolenghi, originally from Jerusalem, is a British-based chef, cookery writer and restaurant owner. He actually studied at Tel Aviv University before completing a master’s degree in comparative literature. It was not until in 1997, when he moved to the UK to plan to start his PhD, that he enrolled himself to train at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London for six months. Following LCB, he waved goodbye to his PhD ambitions and worked as a pastry chef at The Capital, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Knightsbridge. From there he moved to work in the pastry section of the Kensington Place restaurant and that of the sister restaurant, Launceston Place, for a year, under the chef Rowley Leigh. He eventually became head pastry chef at Baker and Spice in Chelsea, London, where he met Sami Tamimi – co-founder of their delicatessens and restaurants and co-author of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookery books – in 1999.
I personally love middle eastern food so am a fan of Ottolenghi’s cooking style. The smorgasbord of delicate spices and concoction of rich flavours; think hummus, dates, sumac, honey, pitas, chickpeas, mint and parsley.
Ottolenghi’s cooking style is rooted in, but not confined to, his Middle Eastern upbringing: “a distinctive mix of Middle Eastern flavours – Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Israeli and Armenian – with a western twist”. His “particular skill is in marrying the food of his native Israel with a wider range of incredible textures and flavours from the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia.
Chargrilled broccoli with fried chilli and garlic is one of Ottolenghi’s signature dishes. This recipe calls for a ridged grill pan to create those lovely char marks on the broccoli. I personally like adding a few slices of lemon as a garnish and for an instant colour boost to liven up the green dish.
Recipe below from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottaoelnghi & Sami Tamimi, copyright 2013.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2 as a side)
- 1 heads broccoli (about 1/2 lb/500 g)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 mild red chiles, thinly sliced
- coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- toasted almonds or 1 lemon sliced into thin slices, for garnish (optional)
1. Prepare the broccoli by separating it into florets (can leave on the florets’ individual stems but I personally don’t fancy stems too much so chopped them off here). Fill a large saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Throw in the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes only. Don’t be tempted to cook it any longer!
2. Using a large slotted spoon, quickly transfer the broccoli to a bowl full of ice-cold water. You need to stop the cooking at once. Drain in a colander and allow to dry completely. I found wrapping it in a tea towel and giving it a good massage, followed by a rigorous spin in the salad spinner, helps immensely. It is important that the broccoli isn’t wet at all. In a mixing bowl, toss the broccoli with 3 tablespoons/70 ml oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
3. Place a ridged grill pan over high heat and leave it there for least 5 minutes, until it is extremely hot. Depending on the size of your pan, grill the broccoli in several batches. The florets mustn’t be cramped. Turn them around as they grill so they get char marks all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue with another batch.
4. While grilling the broccoli, place the remaining scant 5 tablespoons/70 ml oil in a small saucepan with garlic and chiles. Cook them over medium heat until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chile burn–remember, they will keep on cooking even when off the heat. In the meantime, slice the lemon into thin half slices.
5. Pour the oil, garlic, and chile over the hot broccoli and toss together well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the lemon slices or toasted almonds (if preferred). Serve warm or at room temperature.