This book has earned a place on kitchen bookshelves the world over. It was a favorite before its publication and rose to cookbook stardom in no time following its publication in 2013. Every cookbook lover owns or at least knows about Plenty and Yotam Ottolenghi. 

Yotam Ottolenghi, chef, deli owner and writer, wrote this, his second book based on his popular column in The Gaurdian based on vegetarian recipes.

I count Plenty among my all-time favorite cookbooks. I've only cooked a handful of recipes, but every dish I've made has been revelatory and introduced me to new techniques or new flavors (and many of those have become favorites as well). He was the first to introduce me to za'atar, cardamom, and tamarind, ingredients that have become staples in my home (Melissa Clark's Dinner calls on many of the same ingredients).

So what is it about it that has people waxing poetic:

It's veg with a point of view

I'm an enthusiastic meat eater, but the flavors here get me excited. The flavor profiles typically skew to the Mediterranean influenced by Ottolenghi's Israeli upbringing with summers spent with grandparents in Italy.

Layers of flavor

Simple to make recipes these are not, you'll want to clear your counters, because you'll likely need every inch of space. This is a book for people that truly like to cook, not those that are merely looking for a simple means to getting food on the table. But the effort is well worth the reward. The complexity you'll get in every dish is astounding and its all because of hte layers of flavor, Ottolenghi is clearly a master at translating this to the home book. In the green pancakes I had the pancakes on their own were great, but then melt the butter and add bright notes of citrus, some sublte chili (I ended up using Aleppo chili) and ta-da, a dish with serious depth.

Labors of love

As with all cooking, your ingredient quality matters. I've read a handful of unfavorable reviews, even for some of the same recipes I've made, and wonder if it was due to poor ingredients - I've had the same experience myself making the Eggplant with Buttermilk sauce twice - the first time I had a wonderful, almost-fresh tasting za'atar mix, the second a dried out, nearly flavorless mix from a spice jar. Big difference in end result. 


The Recipes