We ate at Ottolenghi’s Islington restaurant last week. I think the last time I queued to get into a restaurant was in 1985 in Sydney and even then I thought I was too old to do that again. But here I was, lined up, with a 15 minute wait for a table. Still, what better place to do that, with a visual feast of food to ogle, and his books to browse. Sarah-Louise complained about the long list of ingredients you need to make his dishes. Often the case, but also often pretty ordinary things you will have about the place anyway. Of the list below, I had everything except chard. As Ottolenghi observes, however, spinach will do fine, just omit the precooking. This is such an easy dish and however unlikely the combination of ingredients may seem, the result is lovely to eat.
300g Swiss chard
5 tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
250g cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ lemon, juiced
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper
100g Greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
Wash the chard, separate the stalks from the leaves, blanch the stalks for five minutes and the leaves for two, then chop both into ½cm dice.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan, add the carrots and caraway seeds, and sauté for five minutes. Add the chard and chickpeas, sauté for six minutes, then stir in the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
When ready to serve, mix the yoghurt with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and spoon over the prepared mixture in its serving bowl – whether that be one for the table or a plate for each diner. Perfect at room temperature.
Last year it was one of the picnic meals we had again and again, keeping the yoghurt in a separate container and adding it at the eating stage. Earlier today I realised that this year summer had gone by without a single picnic. Instead we had this today as part of a meal with a simple Indian vegetable curry and rice.