If you were a kid in Ireland in the 80’s, then you knew that all vegetables were the same colour (kind of greeny brown or orangey brown) and could be ingested by being sucked through a straw. Al dente was something smart that a young fella said when he hit your rear bumper and leeks were something that happened under the kitchen sink. Let’s face it, peppers and coriander hadn’t even been invented yet!
Well, now we have leeks, and peppers and even courgettes and we are only screaming out for things to do with them! This is why I’ve been doing a little happy dance that I discovered Ottolenghi’s book of ‘Plenty’.
Vegetables, Herbs & Spices
I didn’t quite stick to the recipe (I rarely do), but I probably should have. I’ll share my version here and you will just have to go and buy the book for the original. Also, the recipe says “Serves 4” but I fed 2 adults and 3 kids 🙂
- 2 bloody enormous leeks
- A gazillion shallots (seriously, they were tiny…I used about 8)
- 1/2 a fresh chilli (the original uses more – I altered for kids)
- handful of fresh parsley
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs split into yolks and whites
- 120g self raising flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder (I actually only used a tsp – whoops)
- 150ml milk
- 55g butter melted
Don’t be put off by what looks like a long list. As it says in the book, you probably have all these spices in your cupboard anyway. Just don’t do something silly like leave out the turmeric and cumin and leave in the cinnamon – then it would taste like a Swedish cake!
Vegetable Fritters : Leeks
Sadly, this isn’t one of those ‘throw it all into a pot together’ kind of job. However, the end result is pretty much worth the effort.
Sauteé the leek and shallots in a pan in a little butter (the original calls for oil). I chopped everything kind of chunky but (and I think it is a far better idea) the book says chop it finely….I’m just rebellious I guess. Once soft, I removed them from a pan and spread them out in a large mixing bowl to cool. Add all the spices, sugar and salt.
While this is cooling, use the 2 yolks and mix the flour, baking powder, milk and butter into them. This makes a batter. Now whisk the 2 whites until they form soft peaks. Top Tip: If the whites won’t form peaks or if they won’t mix at all, it is probably because there is residual oil in the bowl or on your fork. Gently fold the whites into the cool leek mix. Then fold in the batter gently (so you don’t get rid of all the bubbles from the egg white).
From here, I put a tiny bit of oil in the pan and bring it up to sizzle. Using a tablespoon, I put dollops of the mix on the pan. Turn them once browned on one side. Once the whole batch was done, I popped them in the oven to keep them warm. Again, I think serving them straight out of the pan is probably the best idea as they will remain crisp. I put them from the pan onto kitchen paper to soak up any residual oil.
All thats left is the eating of these delicious vegetable fritters. I had planned on keeping some in the freezer between layers of grease proof paper, but they didn’t last long enough. I served with roast vegetables including pepper and fennel. Thank you Ottolenghi for a truly tasty bite! I promise I shall follow the rules next time!