Book review: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

With four busy restaurants and a weekly Guardian column to his name, Yotam Ottolenghi is already a household name for UK foodies. His first book was a bestseller and his latest offering, Plenty, has been topping the best-seller charts since it was published in May. As the name suggests, it’s a celebration of the colours, textures and flavours found in nature, showcased in simple but stunning recipes. Yes, it’s meat-free but you certainly won’t go hungry with the generous platefuls inspired by the author’s Mediterranean heritage and passion for seasonal produce. Where else would you find a chapter devoted to ‘The Mighty Aubergine’ or recipes that revolutionise the humble lentil?

Divided into chapters like ‘Roots’ and ‘Green Things’, with a handy ingredient index at the back, the book is perfect when you need fresh ideas for veg box leftovers. There’s something to suit each season, from wintry roots and hearty one-pots to summery salads, soups and slaws. Each recipe is illustrated with a full-colour photo and, with the exception of a few elaborate tarts, most are quick and easy enough to throw together after work.

We loved the lunchbox-friendly frittatas and the unusual quinoa salad with dried lime, while the caramelised garlic tart proved a big hit at a veggie dinner party. If you need a break from the flavours of the Med, there are Asian-inspired dishes like black pepper tofu; banh xeo (Vietnamese rice flour pancakes); and glass noodles with edamame beans and tamarind dressing. The only disappointment was the lack of a dessert section, which is replaced by a short ‘Fruit with Cheese’ chapter – ultra-healthy but no good for foodies with a sweet tooth.

While ‘Plenty’ would be an ideal addition to a vegetarian (or vegan) bookshelf, it would be equally useful in a carnivore’s kitchen. Most of the recipes would work well as a side dish or as part of a shared meal and many of them could be adapted to include meat. Add simply grilled chicken to the green bean salad, fresh crabmeat to the saffron tagliatelle, or chorizo to the warming winter couscous. If you’re shopping on a budget or just trying to eat less meat, you’ll be glad to know that many of the recipes are filling enough as meals in their own right, especially those using super-cheap and satisfying lentils and grains.

‘Plenty’ is available to buy on Amazon (currently priced at £11.96), so treat yourself and transform your summer suppers, lunches and picnics. If you’re looking for vegetarian restaurants in the UK, check out some meat-free eateries here and our Best For Vegetarian list, which features veggie-friendly restaurants that will also impress your carnivorous friends and family.