In my exploration of the cookbook Plenty, I have been cooking the recipes that feature New England’s seasonal vegetables. What I have learned from this is a whole new definition of comfort food, one that doesn’t rely on lots of pasta or butter or cheese or bacon, or any of the other usual suspects. This cookbook is a whole new look at what vegetables, legumes, and herbs have to offer, if they are respectfully, lovingly prepared, and seasoned with a deft hand. Ottolenghi has changed my understanding of vegetarian cooking, in a playful yet profound way. Hopefully he’s changed the way vegetarian cooking is seen by cooks everywhere. He’s a vegetable magician.
This will be the last recipe from Plenty I feature here, until my kitchen is fully serviceable again. But I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to cook all the recipes in the book. I’m sure I will have more from Plenty to share with you. The dish above is another comfort food feast. It sounds and looks pretty humble, and it’s so easy to prepare. All you need is the time to roast the tomatoes, about 90 minutes, and a little time to let things cool to room temperature, and you will have a complex, substantial main dish or side. The recipe calls for Castelluccio lentils, but French Puy lentils can be substituted. I had the French ones on hand, so that’s what I used. When choosing a Gorgonzola for this, don’t skimp. Buy the best one you can, creamy, tangy, but not too sharp at the end. Also choose your red wine vinegar carefully; these two ingredients will make all the difference between a dish that may be a little too biting, and a great one, with a full-bodied, pungent yet mellow flavor. My last demand: get some Maldon sea salt. It’s marvelous, and Ottolenghi uses it a lot, so you won’t be sorry. I have been using it for more than his recipes, probably to excess, but it really does have a briny quality I don’t taste in other salts I have in the house. Get some.
Here’s a link to the recipe. Get this on your table and into your mouth before tomatoes are out of season altogether. I am going to be limited to drooling over my copy of Plenty for the next few weeks, but you are not in that position. Go get a copy for yourself, and start tasting the magic in your vegetables.