Inspired by Ottolenghi

On our xmas wishlist last year we featured the Jerusalem recipe book by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  It is the latest instalment from this amazing team that comes from the same city yet lived worlds apart.  I was lucky enough to receive it for my birthday and such is my recipe book obsession that I also went out and bought their first book – Ottolenghi – The cookbook.   Feel free to send me the other one “Plenty” to complete my set.


Im happy to say that some of the more unusual spices and mixes are available from the exotic spice range so I find them really easy to cook from as the ingredients are not intimidating.

Last week I decided to cook the chicken with sumac, lemon & za’atar accompanied by the couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash.  With one of my guests being gluten intolerant I swopped out the cous cous for quinoa and it worked a treat.  For one more thing on the plate I did a colourful little chopped salad.

So here goes:


Chicken with sumac, lemon & za’atar


1 large organic or free-range chicken divided into pieces.  (I just used about 1.3kgs of chicken thighs and legs.)
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling.
1½ tsp ground allspice (pimento)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced

200ml chicken stock or water
1½ tsp salt
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp za’atar
20g unsalted buter
50g pine nuts
4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock or water, salt and pepper. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/ Gas mark 6. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced apart. They should be skin side up. Sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken and onions and put the tray in the oven. Roast for 30-40minutes until the chicken is coloured and just cooked through. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt and cook over a moderate heat, stirring constantly until they turn golden. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the fat.

Transfer the hot chicken and onions to a serving plate and finish with the chopped parsley, pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. You can sprinkle on more za’atar and sumac, if you like.


Cous cous/Quinoa with dried apricots and butternut squash


1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 tbsp olive oil
50g dried apricots
1 small butternut (about 450g), peeled, seeded and cut into 2cm pieces
250g cous cous or quinoa
400ml chicken or vegetable stock
A pinch of saffron strands (you could substitute some paella spice)
3 tbsp roughly chopped tarragon
3 tbsp roughly chopped mint
3 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 ½ tpsp ground cinnamon
Grated zest of ½ lemon
Coarse sea salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4.Place the onion in a large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté over a high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until golden brown, then set aside.

Meanwhile, pour enough hot water from the tap over the apricots to just cover them. Soak for 5 minutes, then drain and cut into 5mm dice. Mix the diced squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a baking tray, place in the oven and bake for about 25minutes, until lightly coloured and quite soft.

While waiting for the butternut squash, cook the cous cous /quinoa. Bring the stock to a boil with the saffron.  If using quinoa – boil it in the stock until the little rings on the edge of the quinoa start pulling away.  Add more water if needed.  If using couscous – place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and pour the boiling stock over it, plus the remaining olive oil. Cover with cling film and leave for about 10 minutes; all the liquid should have been absorbed.

Use a fork or whisk to fluff up the cous cous/ quinoa, then add the onion, butternut squash, apricots, herbs, cinnamon and lemon zest. Mix well with your hands, trying not to mash the butternut. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm or cold.


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