First of all if you haven't stumbled upon Yotam Ottolenghi by now google him and go to his website. How can you not love and want to be around a group of people who embrace this philosophy :
We take our food extremely seriously. We make everything – be it marshmallow, an elaborate upside down pear cake or a French bean salad - right from scratch. We don’t buy anything other than raw ingredients, and we only produce things that we would want to eat ourselves. We don’t use colouring or preservatives, we don’t freeze and we don’t refrigerate for long periods. We buy mostly local produce (that is, British and European), very often organic, and we cook to feed and to share, applying the same instincts as a home cook. But we are also perfectionists; testing and re-testing each dish until we get it just right; creating and maintaining beautiful and serene dining environments.
I just bought his cookbook "Plenty" and it is one of the most gorgeous cookbooks I have ever seen. It's a vegetarian cookbook and the photos alone make me want to cook every dish-and those of you who know me know that I am not a vegan. I'm not a huge fan of beef but I love chicken, fish and pork-and occasionally lamb. But with this cookbook I may be eating nothing but vegetables all summer long.
I was searching for a cookbook with an emphasis on vegetables since we have expanded our garden this summer. Even more tomatoes, more eggplant, cucumbers, peppers,broccoli,lettuce,mustard,sugar snap peas,onions,garlic and lots of fresh herbs. And we also started biweekly delivery from New Roots Organics out of Ballard. Carolyn Boyle started New Roots back in 1999 and supports local organic farmers. We got our first bin delivered last Thursday and it was perfection. Juicy nectarines,huge blueberries and some of the sweetest cantaloupe I have tasted in a long time. Snap green beans that tasted like they just came from my garden. I love this service. I try to get to the local farmer's markets but with my schedule I can't always make it so this is a nice fall back plan. I can't wait to see the next delivery-it's like getting Christmas presents every other week.
I love fresh veggies and fruit from the garden. I grew up in Duquesne , PA and my grandfather had a huge garden that my mom and dad would tend along with my sister,brother and myself. We had a cherry tree,several peach trees, a nectarine tree, and 2 plum trees. I was spoiled at young age, roaming through the garden with a salt shaker and having a dinner of fresh tomatoes with a little salt sprinkled on them. Or at lunchtime I would gorge myself on plums and peaches so juicy I would be covered with peach drippings and my fingers would be purple from the plums. When my grandfather became bedridden he would sit in the upstairs window and yell down at me "Yenta-pick up those peaches, bring me those with some tomatoes" He would place them on his nightstand or windowsill and usually by the next day they were gone. He taught me how to smell a peach and know if it was ready-how to pick off those huge caterpillars that would eat our tomato plants, how to set onions in so they would grow straight and have huge white bulbs by fall. I miss my grandfather the most during the summer when the sight of the garden takes me back to him and his window overlooking his garden. I like to think that my love of gardening comes directly from him.
Anyway I have gotten way off track here. Back to Yotam. One of the last recipes in the book has some of my absolute favorite ingredients in it basil, watermelon,feta cheese,olive oil and red onions. Now if you would have told me I'm going to make you a salad from those ingredients and season it with a little salt and pepper I would have said okay and then I would be making a mental note of where I could stop for good take out on the way home after the "salad". But the picture of this salad looked so incredible I had to try it and now I am addicted to this salad-it's going to be my go to salad for the entire summer. If I didn't tell you before, I love watermelon! My mother used to tell me she ate it all summer long while she was pregnant with me and that's where my addiction comes from ! The sweetness of the melon, the tartness of the feta, the crunch of the red onion and the slight grassy flavor of the olive oil-try it you won't be disappointed . And check out the cookbook-I'm certain you will love it as much as I do !