Flavour is the eighth cookbook from the best-selling cookbook author, restaurateur, food writer and chef Yottam Ottolenghi. In the introduction, Ottolenghi describes Flavour as Plenty 3 – a continuation from his vegetable focused cookbooks Plenty and Plenty More. Flavour is heavily focused on vegetables and understanding what makes them distinct and how to ramp up their flavours to create Flavour Bombs. He uses 3 key concepts throughout the book – process, pairing and produce to explain what makes certain vegetable dishes taste so good.
As a long-time Ottolenghi fan, Flavour was a cookbook I was eagerly anticipating and one whose arrival elicited a squeal of delight before I had cracked open a page. Sitting down and slowly going through it only heightened my excitement for the words, lessons, and recipes in between its hard, white covers. Some of my favourite cookbooks are the ones that go beyond sharing good recipes to teaching me things I didn’t know about cooking, processes, ingredients and dishes. It’s the ones that feel like a food education I treasure the most, and Flavour is just that – a vibrant and delicious education on vegetables. The book is broadly split into the 3 key concepts, mentioned above, and at the beginning of each section he explains that concept and how it turns vegetables from good to amazing, before sharing the recipes that fall under that concept.
One of my favourite pages of the book is the ones in which he goes through Flavour’s 20 ingredients. They’re the ingredients that show up often in the recipes and many aren’t your usual pantry staples (multiple varieties of chillis, black garlic, mango pickle and tamarind paste). He explains not only what they are but how they’re used. This means that buying black garlic for one recipe doesn’t land up being one clove used and the rest discarded, but buying black garlic and understanding how to use it beyond the one recipe you bought it for. It has made me want to try new ingredients.
As far as the recipes go, I tagged so many that at one point I wondered whether my tags were actually helpful as I estimate about 95% of the recipes are ones I plan on making and have already started going through. Most recipes have long ingredient lists and require time and sometimes pre-planning but they’re well worth it. I made the best green beans I have ever had (the slow cooked charred green beans), the spiciest ratatouille (his Berbere spiced one, which introduced me to a spice mixture I now love) and a delightfully sweet and spicy carrot salad (roasted carrot salad with chamoy). It’s a cookbook that’ll show you how versatile and delicious vegetables can be and introduce you to new ways of serving them.
The recipe I’m sharing is one of the few sweet recipes that uses fruit. It’s a berry platter with homemade labneh and orange oil. I’d been wanting to make labneh for a while and this provided the perfect application. It was delicious – sweet, tart and creamy – and something I plan on remaking often.
A few notes on the recipe:
Making your own labneh is easier than it seems. You need only plain yogurt, some salt, and a cheese cloth. Plan this ahead, doing it a day or two beforehand. If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy labneh. He uses sheep’s yogurt, but I used cow’s yogurt (an option he gives as an alternative). If your cheesecloth is very thin, double or triple layer it. I used this one and triple layered it so that only liquid, not yogurt, seeped through.
I’ve shared his berry types and amounts so you can recreate his version. However, he says to use whatever berries are available. I was only able to get strawberries and blueberries and used those, so feel free to use what you have/like.
When making the orange oil, watch your olive oil carefully so it doesn’t burn and allow it to cool before adding the orange peel and herbs. Otherwise you’ll end up with a fried piece of orange peel that doesn’t yield the aromatic fruitiness you want.
Lastly, I also tried this recipe sans the oil and with a little of this simple granola and honey for breakfast and it was delicious. Would highly recommend this as a decadent breakfast.
A Berry Platter with Labneh and Orange Oil from Ottolenghi Flavour
- 900 grams cows yogurt (use sheeps yogurt instead if you can get)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 10 grams fresh thyme sprigs plus extra for serving
- 1 orange
- 200 grams blackberries
- 250 grams raspberrries
- 300 grams strawberries hulled and quartered
- 50 grams caster sugar
- 1 lime zest and juice
- 200 grams blueberries
- 150 grams cherries pitted
- Put the yogurt and salt in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Line a colander with a piece of muslin/cheesecloth large enough to hang over the sides and place the colander over a bowl.
- Transfer the yogurt to the lined collander and fold over the sides of the muslin/cheesecloth to completely encase the yogurt. Place a heavy weight over the cloth (like a tin/jar) and transfer to the fridge to drain for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.
- Finely shave the skin of the orange to get 6 strips. Set aside.
- Meanwhile put the oil in a small saucepan, for which you have a lid, on medium heat. Heat gently for 7 minutes, or until tiny air bubbles form. Remove from heat, let cool a bit, and add the thyme and orange strips. Cover and allow to infuse for a minimum of 30 minutes (preferably overnight)
- The next day put 50 grams of blackberries, 100 grams of raspberries and 100 grams of strawberries in the bowl of a food processer along with the lime juice and caster sugar and blitz until smooth.
- Put the remaining berries and cherries in a large bowl along with the blitzed fruit and gently combine. You can serve right away or leave in the fridge for a few hours, brining it back to room temperature before serving.
- Spread the labneh out on a large platter. Spoon over the berries, then sprinkle with lime zest. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of infused oil, along with a couple of the orange strips and the extra thyme.
Flavour was given to us by Penguin Random House and is available here. Penguin Random House nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions are our own. The recipe is reprinted with permission, images are our own.
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Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.