Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (2024)

I have never been shy about my love of vegetables. I have been singing the praises of cauliflowers, tomatoes, lemons and the mighty aubergine for years. But while it’s my mission to present vegetables in new and exciting ways, I must confess to a niggling doubt: how many more ways are there to roast a cauliflower, slice a tomato, squeeze a lemon or fry an aubergine?

The answer, I’m delighted to report, is many, and in my latest foray, I have been joined by my brilliant colleague and co-writer Ixta Belfrage. Our journey of discovery into the world of vegetables has focused on understanding what makes each one distinct, so they can be tasted afresh. It’s about creating flavour bombs, and it’s done in these three ways.


One way to ramp up flavour in a vegetable is to subject it to a process before or during cooking. Three recipes in our new book involve cooking celeriac whole for more than two hours, then dressing and serving it in different ways. During the initial cooking, something magical happens. Much of the water in the celeriac evaporates; it turns golden brown, and becomes sweeter and richer. This caramelising is key. Whatever you choose to do – if anything – after this is less important; the browning process is such a flavour bomb that the celeriac is heavenly eaten at this stage, cut into wedges and served with a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of creme fraiche. Other processes that elevate vegetables to great heights include charring, ageing and infusing.


It’s not so much what you do to an ingredient (“process”) or the ingredient itself (“produce”), but the combination of ingredients in the four most important pairings.

Acidity Acidic substances can act as preservatives, improve texture (causing vegetables to cook more slowly and toughen up) and, best of all, balance flavours. A favourite sandwich of ours – a mix of olive oil-roasted vegetables and chillies, piled on toasted sourdough with pecorino shavings or crumbled feta on top – wouldn’t hit the spot without the acidic element counteracting the sweetness and chilli heat.

Chilli heat Fresh, pickled, dried, flaked, in pastes, oils, butters and spice mixes: our kitchen is crowded with varities of chilli because the question, “What’s needed?” in a dish is so often answered with “chilli heat”. Chillies’ great gift is their ability to marry together a range of flavours to create a singular harmony.

Sweetness All ingredients are a mix of things – sweet and salty, sweet and savoury – and these tastes need each other in order to shine. What would bitter cocoa powder be without sweet sugar? Satisfaction is about the combination, the layering, the contrast of tastes. With sweetness in particular, without the complexity, you run the risk of turning your dish into a dessert.

Fat Take a simple salad – tomato and basil, say – and it’s one thing: sweet, refreshing and lovely. Add mozzarella, though, or tangy feta, and it becomes something entirely different. It’s no longer just the picture: it’s the entire summer holiday. Add another layer of fat in the form of olive oil and the dish is complete.


In some cases, there’s so much going on within the ingredient that it can pretty much do all the work on its own, its deliciousness teased out by baking or toasting or frying.

Such ingredients are often intensely savoury, and rich in the fifth flavour, umami (the others are sweet, sour, salty and bitter), the result of flavour compounds called glutamates. Unlike monosodium glutamate (chemically manufactured and liberally sprinkled over takeaways), there are many natural sources: parmesan, anchovies, mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, seaweed, Marmite and ketchup.

After years of cooking vegetables, I never cease to be surprised by their chameleon-like ability to take on flavour and metamorphose from one dish to the next. A simple cauliflower can reinvent itself, showing up as a seductive Levantine fritter, then grilled with saffron and raisins, disguised as bulgur in a modern take on tabbouleh, followed by a glamorous savoury cake, a meaty steak, dressed as (coronation) chicken or simply served whole, grilled yet unadorned. This is how wide the range and how wondrous the potential of every single vegetable. Magical, to borrow a term favoured by my five-year-old son.

Hasselback beetroot with lime leaf butter

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (1)

Preparing vegetables hasselback involves slicing them thinly, but not all the way down, so the slices remain held together at the base, like a fan: they not only look great but have deliciously crispy edges all over.

To offset the extra work, start with shop-bought ready-cooked beetroots (plain, not in vinegar). If you do end up using raw beets, try to get bunches and use the stems and leaves to make our tempura stems, leaves and herbs.

Serves 4 as a side

8-10 medium-large beetroots (that’s about 2 bunches), skin on (1.2kg)
or 8-10 ready-cooked beetroots (1kg)
Flaked sea salt

For the lime leaf butter
90g unsalted butter
40ml olive oil
5 fresh makrut lime leaves, chopped
10g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lime juice, plus 2 tsp to serve

For the lime leaf salsa
10 fresh makrut lime leaves, stalks removed and very finely chopped
½ tsp fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
½ garlic clove, crushed
½ green chilli, very finely chopped (deseeded for less heat)
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil

For the yoghurt cream
80ml double cream
90g Greek-style yoghurt

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/ 425F/gas 7. Place the beets in a baking dish in a single layer. Fill with water to 2cm up the sides, sprinkle on one tablespoon of salt, cover tightly with foil and bake for one hour and 20 minutes, or until a knife goes through easily. Discard water and, when cool enough, peel off the skin under cold running water (wear gloves to avoid staining). Halve larger beetroots lengthways. Reduce oven temperature to 190C.

While the beetroots are cooking, put the butter, oil, lime leaves, ginger and garlic into a small pan on a medium-high heat. Gently cook until the butter begins to bubble, about four minutes, then set aside to infuse for at least 40 minutes. Discard the aromatics, then stir in one tablespoon of lime juice and one teaspoon of flaked salt.

For the salsa, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of flaked salt, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream, yoghurt and a pinch of flaked salt until light and fluffy, with medium-stiff peaks, about three minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cut slits in the peeled beetroots at 4mm intervals, stopping about 1cm from the bottom. Place on a small parchment-lined baking tray and fan the slices out. Spoon the melted butter evenly over, especially between the slices. Roast for one and a quarter hours, basting very well every 20 minutes or so, until the edges are crisp and caramelised. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Spread the yoghurt cream on a platter, then arrange the beets on top, spooning the butter over. Drizzle over the salsa, finish with remaining lime juice and serve at once.

Tempura stems, leaves and herbs

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (2)

Huge quantities of beets are roasted across the Ottolenghi restaurants, so we’re always on the lookout for clever ways of using the stems and leaves. If you don’t have any, use basil, parsley, sage or chard. Just make sure the leaves are not limp and wet, or hard and dry. The batter will be enough for 100g of leaves and herbs.

Make sure your prep is done before the oil gets too hot and have a slotted spoon and a rack lined with kitchen paper at the ready. Tempura doesn’t sit too well, so try to eat it right away.

Serves 6 as a snack or a little starter

70g beetroot leaves and stems (cut to 8cm lengths), washed and patted dry
20g dill, patted dry, in 8cm fronds
10g mint, patted dry, leaves picked
½ tbsp Szechuan peppercorns, crushed with a pestle and mortar
Flaked sea salt

For the tangerine dipping sauce
50ml tangerine juice, with bits (from 2-3 tangerines)
3 tbsp lime juice
1½ tsp maple syrup
½ small garlic clove, finely chopped
4 fresh makrut lime leaves, stalks discarded and leaves finely chopped
½ red chilli, deseeded and chopped

For the batter
80g self-raising flour
80g cornflour, plus 50g for dipping
210ml ice-cold sparkling water (small bits of ice welcome)
1½ tbsp black sesame seeds
700ml sunflower oil, for deep-frying

In a small serving bowl, stir together all the dipping sauce ingredients with an eighth of a teaspoon of flaked salt, and set aside.

For the batter, put the flour, 80g of cornflour, water, one teaspoon of flaked salt and the seeds into a large bowl. Whisk gently until the mixture just comes together.

Pour the oil into a medium high-sided saute pan and place on a high heat. Once very hot, lower to medium and test by dropping in a little batter; it should sizzle but not brown straight away. In batches, toss stems, leaves and herbs in the 50g of cornflour, shake to remove any excess, then dip in the batter. Lift, shake the excess over the bowl, then place as many pieces in the oil as can comfortably fit without touching. Fry for 30-60 seconds on each side, until crisp and pale golden, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a kitchen paper-lined rack. Continue with the rest, then sprinkle the lot with the pepper and salt. Transfer to a platter and serve hot with the dipping sauce alongside.

Romano pepper schnitzels

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (3)

In 2016, the German minister for agriculture wanted to ban naming vegetable-based foods after their meaty counterparts, claiming terms such as “vegetarian schnitzel” were unsettling and misleading. Ours aren’t vegetarian schnitzels, they are vegetable ones – a semantic difference but a big one. In any case, we hope our choice of title does not offend.

The sauce is a take on the classic Marie Rose but turbocharged. It’s also great in sandwiches and will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Serves 4 as a starter

8 red Romano peppers (850g)
Salt, flaked sea salt and black pepper
100g plain flour
4 eggs, beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs
60g sesame seeds, white and/or black

16 fresh makrut lime leaves, stalks discarded and leaves finely chopped
1 tbsp nori sprinkles (or blitz a sheet of nori in a spice grinder and use 1 tbsp)
600ml sunflower oil, for deep-frying
2 limes: finely grate the zest to get 2 tsp, then cut into wedges to serve

For the Marie Rose sauce
1 whole head of garlic, top fifth cut off to expose the cloves
Salt and black pepper
180g cherry tomatoes
4 large red chillies (75g)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp chipotle flakes
60g mayonnaise

Heat the oven to 250C (230C fan)/480F/gas 9½. To make the sauce, sprinkle the garlic with salt and pepper, wrap in foil and place on a parchment-lined baking tray with the tomatoes and chillies. Roast for 30 minutes, until they begin to blacken and blister. Remove from oven and, when cool, squeeze the garlic into the small bowl of a food processor, discarding the skins. Add the chillies (deseeded for less heat), tomatoes, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle flakes and a quarter-teaspoon of salt; blitz to a coarse paste. Leave to cool, then mix in the mayonnaise and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Meanwhile, cut a 5cm slit vertically in the base of each pepper, then place on a large parchment-lined baking tray (you can roast them at the same time as the garlic, near the bottom of the oven). Roast for 16 minutes, turning over halfway, until cooked through and beginning to blacken. Transfer to a sieve, cut side down, to drain any liquid, taking care to keep the stalks intact. Once cool, carefully peel away as much skin as possible without puncturing the flesh, then sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Prepare three shallow containers long enough to fit the peppers. In the first, mix flour with one teaspoon of flaked salt and plenty of black pepper; put the eggs in the second; in the last mix breadcrumbs, sesame seeds, lime leaves, nori, two teaspoons of flaked salt and a generous grind of pepper.

Set a large metal rack over one tray and line another with plenty of kitchen paper. Dip each pepper first into the flour, then the egg and finally the panko mixture, shaking off any excess as you go; lie it on the rack and repeat with the rest of the peppers.

Pour the oil into a large, high-sided saute pan or wok on a medium-high heat. Once very hot, fry the peppers two at a time so you don’t overcrowd them. Lower in carefully and fry for one and a half to two minutes on each side, until golden brown and crisp, then transfer to the paper-lined tray.

Serve at once, with lime zest and sea salt sprinkled on top, and lime wedges and Marie Rose sauce alongside.

Black beans with coconut, chilli and lime

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (4)

Lime, chilli and garlic are the key flavours here, coming through the oil and the crispy sprinkle at the end.

If using dried beans, soak a day ahead; with tinned or jarred, add to the cooked shallots with 60ml of water and cook just until heated through.

Serves 4 as a side

2 banana shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 fresh makrut lime leaves
1 ancho chilli, torn in half
350g black turtle beans, soaked all night in cold water with 1 tsp bicarb of soda (or 800g cooked beans)
3 tbsp lime juice
½ small coconut, roughly grated (50g)

For the fried aromatics
90ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red chillies, thinly sliced in rounds
10 fresh makrut lime leaves
2 tsp black mustard seeds

Start with the aromatics. Heat oil in a small pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, reduce heat to medium, add garlic, chillies and lime leaves, and fry for two minutes, stirring. Add mustard seeds and fry for another 30 seconds, until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Strain over a bowl. Set aromatics and oil aside separately.

For the beans, put three tablespoons of reserved oil into a medium pan on a medium-high heat; add shallots, garlic, lime leaves, ancho chilli and one and a quarter teaspoons of salt. Reduce heat to medium and fry for six minutes, stirring often, until the shallots are soft and golden. Rinse beans, then add to pan with 700ml water. Bring to a simmer, lower heat to medium and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked but still holding their shape. Remove from heat, cover and leave for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a lipped platter or large, shallow bowl. Discard lime leaves and ancho chilli. Drizzle over lime juice and remaining oil, top with coconut and fried aromatics, and serve.

Sticky rice balls in tamarind rasam broth

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (5)

We urge you to try our version of rasam, a South Indian broth, despite the longish ingredient list, to discover a whole range of new flavours.

Use tamarind pulp, not paste (available in any Indian supermarket), to get the sweet acid kick you’re after.

You’ll need to soak the rice for an hour in water. The balls can be made ahead and kept refrigerated in a sealed container; return to room temperature before pouring over the hot broth.

Serves 4 as a main

50g block of tamarind pulp
30g ginger, skin on, thinly sliced
15g turmeric, skin on, thinly sliced
1 large green chilli, roughly sliced
250g cherry tomatoes
2½ tbsp sunflower oil
½ lemon, halved lengthways, cut into ¼cm-thick half-moons (pips removed)
1½ tsp cumin seeds, finely crushed
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chillies
20 fresh curry leaves (optional)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3-4 plum tomatoes (300g), coarsely grated and skins discarded (250g)
2 tsp caster sugar

For the rice balls
200g Thai sticky rice, soaked for 1 hour in cold water, then drained well
2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for shaping
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
15g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
10g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra picked leaves and stalks
2 spring onions, thinly sliced (30g)

For the rasam, add the first four ingredients, 1.2 litres of water and one teaspoon of salt to a medium pan on a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring to break apart the pulp. Push through a sieve into a bowl, then discard the aromatics.

Meanwhile, put rice in a medium pan with 220ml water and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil on medium-high heat, then lower heat and cover loosely, leaving a small gap for steam to escape. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit, uncovered, until cool.

Toss cherry tomatoes in one and a half teaspoons of oil. Place a large saute pan on a high heat. Once smoking, add tomatoes and cook, tossing occasionally, until charred and blistered, about four minutes. Set aside. Add lemons and cook until charred, 30-50 seconds a side. Set aside. Turn heat down to medium-high, add remaining oil, cumin and mustard seeds, dried chillies, curry leaves and garlic, and cook for 90 seconds, until fragrant. Add grated plum tomatoes; cook for five minutes more, then add sugar, tamarind liquid, charred tomatoes and half a teaspoon of salt. Bring back to the boil and simmer for eight minutes. Set aside while you prepare the rice balls.

Put the oil into a saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for seven minutes, until soft and browned. Add garlic and ginger, and cook for 90 seconds. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl with the cooked rice, coriander and spring onion. Mix well. With lightly oiled hands, form into 12 balls (30-35g each).

To serve, heat through the rasam, then add charred lemon slices. Divide rice balls between four bowls, pour over the rasam and top with coriander.

Miso butter onions

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (6)

These onions are a revelation, and the very definition of low effort/high impact. Two things are vital, though: the roasting tray must be big enough to fit 16 onion halves (if not, roast fewer, decreasing other ingredients proportionally) and these must be basted well, so they remain moist. Serve spooned over toast, mashed potatoes or rice, or with roast chicken.

Serves 6 as a side

8 medium onions, skinned (1.2kg)
100g unsalted butter, melted
100g white miso paste

Heat the oven to 260C (240C fan)/500F/gas 10. Halve the onions lengthways, trim tops and a little off the bottom (you want the halves held together at the base).

Whisk butter, miso and one litre of warm water until fully combined.

Space apart the onion halves, cut side down, in a 40cm x 28cm high-sided baking tray or dish. Pour over the miso water, cover tightly with foil, bake for 35 minutes, then remove foil and turn onions cut side up. Baste well and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes, until very soft and deep brown.

Carefully transfer to a platter, pouring sauce over. Serve at once.

Potato salad with Thai basil salsa

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (7)

This is as fresh as a potato salad will get, thanks to the large quantities of lime, garlic, chilli and Thai basil poured over it. It will make a good light supper with broccoli and will also partner well with salmon or roast chicken.

If you can’t get hold of Thai basil, use an equal combination of coriander and ordinary basil. The salsa won’t stay bright green for long, so make it just before you’re ready to serve.

When jerusalem artichokes are in season, we like to roast them and add to this salad. If you’re not a fan, substitute them with the same amount of potatoes (in which case they’ll all be boiled, so no need to turn on the oven).

Serves 4 as a side

600g small to medium salad potatoes (or 1.1kg, if you’re not using jerusalem artichokes), peeled and cut into 3-4cm pieces
Salt and flaked sea salt
600g jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces (500g)
75ml olive oil
50g breakfast radishes, thinly sliced
3 limes: finely grate the zest to get 1¼ tbsp, then juice to get 3 tbsp
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
15g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
28g Thai basil, 20g roughly chopped, the rest picked leaves to serve
1 large green chilli, finely sliced into rounds
30g smoked, ready-roasted and salted almonds, roughly chopped (or ordinary ready-roasted almonds)

Heat the oven to 230C (210C fan)/450F/gas 8 (if roasting artichokes). Put the potatoes into a large pan, cover with cold, salted water, bring to a simmer, then cook for around 10 minutes, or untilcooked through but still holding their shape. Drain and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix artichokes (if using) with one tablespoon of oil and half a teaspoon of flaked salt, and spread out on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes, tossing halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then put into a large bowl with the cooled potatoes.

While the artichokes are roasting, mix the radishes with one tablespoon of the lime juice and a quarter-teaspoon of flaked salt, and set aside.

In a spice grinder or the small bowl of a food processor, blitz the lime zest, garlic, ginger and the 20g of Thai basil with one teaspoon of flaked salt and the remaining 60ml of oil to get a bright green paste. Scrape into the bowl of potatoes, with the remaining two tablespoons of lime juice. Gently stir through the radishes (including the liquid) and the picked Thai basil leaves.

Finish with the chilli and almonds, and serve.

Grilled figs with Shaoxing dressing

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (8)

On paper it may not sound as if it would work, but the combination of figs, Chinese rice wine and ricotta is marvellous. This dish is a fine balance of sweet and savoury, so it’s important your figs are ripe and sweet. If they aren’t, increase the amount of maple syrup a little.

The infused oil and cooked figs need time to marinate, so make them a day ahead if you like. The figs can be cooked up to three days before and kept in the fridge (just bring back to room temperature before you assemble the salad). You can even leave them in the fridge for up to three weeks to ferment (or at least become a little funky); they make a great addition to a cheese board.

Serves 4 as a starter

8 ripe purple figs, halved (320g)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2½ tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or pale dry sherry)
2½ tsp Chinkiang vinegar (or half the amount of balsamic vinegar)
60ml olive oil
2 red chillies, finely sliced into rounds (20g)
1 lemon: finely shave the skin to get 5 strips
60g rocket
140g ricotta

Heat the oven to its highest grill setting. Toss the figs with the soy sauce and one and a half tablespoons of maple syrup, then arrange, cut side up and spaced apart, on a medium, parchment-lined baking tray. Make sure there is no overhanging parchment that could burn under the grill. Roast for 12 minutes on the top shelf of the oven, until they are soft and caramelised, but still holding their shape. Return figs and cooking juices to the bowl, with the rice wine, vinegar and remaining tablespoon of maple syrup. Gently mix, then set aside for at least one hour (or overnight) for the flavours to come together.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan on a medium heat and, once hot, fry the chillies for three minutes, stirring to separate the slices. Add the lemon strips and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant, then immediately pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside to infuse for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

Arrange the rocket on a platter and top with the figs and dressing. Dot with spoonfuls of the ricotta, finish with the infused oil, chillies and lemon strips, and serve.

Extracted from Ottolenghi Flavour, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, published by Ebury on 3 September at £27. To order a copy for £23.49, go to guardianbookshop.com. Set designer for portraits: Elena Horn, assisted by Lucy Fraser. Grooming: Neusa Neves at Terri Manduca using Bioderma skincare, Pixi makeup and Innersense organic haircare

This article was amended on 25 August 2020 to refer to makrut lime, in line with Guardian style guidance.

Tempura herbs and hasselback beetroot: eight flavour-packed new veg recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi (2024)


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