I've been slowly working my way through cooking the recipes in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. The focus is on vegetables, and all the recipes are entirely vegetarian (even though Ottolenghi himself isn’t).
What makes it fun though is that all of the recipes employ some combination of unusual ingredients, technique or cooking method. This means that, unlike most recipes, you actually have to follow the recipes pretty closely, and actually have all of the ingredients listed (I’ve made a few substitutions on occasions, but only when feeling confident).
I cooked the “Roasted butternut squash with sweet spices, lime and green chilli” recipe (page 65) recently, for example, and whilst it sounded straightforward at first glance, it took me almost ten minutes just to precisely cut the limes. I then had to shell a couple of tablespoons of green cardamom and grind the seeds into a power — something I'd never have thought to do, usually I just chuck whole cardamom pods into curry or rice.
The dish is also served with a yoghurt and tahini sauce. That's something I had done before (those two ingredients are match made in heaven), although this time with added lime juice.
The final presentation is made up of piles of the roasted spiced butternut squash, dollops of the yoghurt, the sliced lime (which has been soaked in oil and salt), fresh chilli and coriander leaves.
The plate is both beautiful to look at, with vibrant oranges and greens, and a joy to eat. The sweetness of the spices complements the sharpness of the lime, bound together with the creaminess of the yoghurt.
And this is just one of the 100+ recipes in the book (all usefully organised by main vegetable ingredient). I have many more to try.
If you enjoy cooking (and eating), I really recommend the book. I eat meat, but I think Ottolenghi may be the best argument yet that sometimes – often even – vegetables are plenty.