Easy Ottolenghi summer recipes: starters and snacks | Yotam Ottolenghi (2024)

Easy Ottolenghi summer recipes: starters and snacks | Yotam Ottolenghi (1)

Summer, to me, is about food that can be made in advance, so no time is wasted at the stove. It’s also about food that makes sense eaten outside, perched on laps in the garden or in the park as a picnic. Above all, it is about colour: we have the gift of spring and all its shades of green, the promise of autumn with all its red and gold, and the great big bonus of the yellows and oranges of the summer sun. I’ve kept all three of these things in mind with today’s recipes. Most of the work can be done in advance, so that any sweating can be done pool-side, rather than stove-side: scones to bake and take on a picnic, chicken left to marinate until the very last moment, vegetables to roast ahead of time, and breads to be put together when the munchies kick in. And if your summer food can be eaten without cutlery – corn on the cob, pizza, chips, tacos – so much the better.

When making any of these dishes, your kitchen counter will end up looking like an artist’s palette. The various shades of green in one corner (asparagus, beans, courgettes, peas, avocados and mountains of soft herbs), the yellow and orange shining through the middle (lemons, corn, saffron, cheddar and mango); red is there, too, bold, bright and sweet (strawberries, cherries, watermelon, tomatoes, barberries). As with any artist’s palette, all you need to create a masterpiece is a blank canvas, a good view and an appetite to create.

Saffron and mustard scones with cheddar and piccalilli

These would make a very classy addition to any summer picnic. They also work with thick-cut ham instead of, or as well as, the cheese. Scones are always best eaten on the day they’re baked, but if need be these will keep in a sealed container for a day. Makes six.

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tbsp mustard powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1¼ tsp baking powder
50g fridge-cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus 50g extra at room temperature, to serve
2 eggs
80g Greek-style yoghurt
⅛ tsp saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water for 30 minutes
180g mature cheddar, sliced
150g good-quality piccalilli
15g pea shoots (optional)

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. In a large bowl, mix the flour, mustard powder, cayenne, baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt, then, using your hands, rub in the cubed butter until the mix is the texture of fine crumbs.

In a second bowl, mix one egg with the yoghurt and saffron, including its soaking water, then add to the crumb mix. Using first a spatula and then lightly floured hands, bring the mixture together into a dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1.5cm thick, then cut out three (or four) circles with a floured, round 7cm cutter (you want smooth edges, so don’t twist the cutter as you press down). Re-roll the offcuts of dough to 1.5cm thick, and cut out three (or two) more circles, to make six in total.

Transfer the rounds to a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Beat the second egg and use to lightly brush the top of each scone. Bake for 14 minutes, until the scones are golden-brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool, then cut the scones in half widthways. Spread both sides generously with butter, and top with cheese and piccalilli. Add the pea shoots, if using, sandwich back together and serve.

Lamb, tomato and baharat pizzette

Easy Ottolenghi summer recipes: starters and snacks | Yotam Ottolenghi (2)

Homemade pizza dough seems much more daunting than it really is. This version needs no fancy kit, plus it takes only five minutes to make and 30 minutes to rise. Use this dough recipe as a base, and experiment with your toppings. You can make the lamb mix ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature before you top the pizzette. I bake my pizzette in two batches, to prevent steam building up in the oven, and to ensure that the bases are super-crisp. That said, if you prefer, you can bake them all at the same time on two trays. Makes six pizzette, to serve three or six.

200g strong white bread flour
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to grease
120ml lukewarm water

For the topping
300g lamb mince
1 ripe 100g tomato, cut into 0.5cm dice
½ banana shallot, peeled and very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp baharat spice mix
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
15g coriander leaves, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the flour and yeast with a tablespoon of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt. Add the water and, using a spatula, bring the mixture together until combined. Tip out the dough on a lightly oiled work surface and, with lightly oiled hands, knead for five minutes, until soft and elastic. (Add a little more oil if it starts to stick to the work surface.) Split the dough into six equal pieces (about 55g each), then space them well apart on a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a slightly damp cloth and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to its highest setting (240C/465F/gas mark 9) and start on the topping. In a medium bowl, combine the first six ingredients with two-thirds of the coriander and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt.

Grease a 40cm x 30cm oven tray with a decent amount of olive oil. Put three dough balls on the tray, spaced well apart, then use your fingertips to pull and stretch each one into an 18cm x 12cm round-edged rectangle; make sure there is at least a 3cm gap between each pizzetta. Spread a sixth of the lamb mix (about 70g) evenly over each pizzetta, leaving a 1cm border around the edge, and use your fingers to press the meat slightly into the dough. Bake for eight to nine minutes, until the meat is cooked and the pizzetta crisp and golden brown. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping.

Serve warm, scattered with the rest of the chopped coriander and a drizzle of olive oil.

Oven chips with Greek oregano and feta

Easy Ottolenghi summer recipes: starters and snacks | Yotam Ottolenghi (3)

I’d heard great things about George Calombaris’s chips before we were fellow judges on MasterChef Australia, but they still exceeded all expectations. Eat these alongside fish, meat or a simple salad, or even just as they are with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over. Dried Greek oregano has a more intense flavour than the regular sort; you can buy it in specialist Mediterranean food shops, but if you can’t find any, both wild and regular oregano will work very well. Serves six.

2kg maris piper potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 2cm-wide chips
90ml sunflower oil
Flaked sea salt
60ml olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp dried Greek oregano (or any other dried oregano)
150g feta, roughly crumbled into 1-2cm pieces

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the potatoes for nine minutes, until starting to soften at the edges but still holding their shape. Drain, leave to steam dry for five minutes, then tip into a large bowl. Add the sunflower oil and a tablespoon of salt, toss to coat, then tip out on to two large oven trays lined with greaseproof paper (you’ll need two trays, so the potatoes aren’t overcrowded). Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every now and then, until golden brown and crisp.

While the chips are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat, then gently fry the garlic for three or four minutes, until pale golden brown. Lift out the garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate; reserve the infused oil.

Once the chips are cooked, sprinkle with the dried garlic, drizzle with the infused olive oil and return to the oven for four minutes to heat through. Remove from the oven and, while the chips are piping hot, sprinkle with feta and oregano. Serve at once.

Grilled corn with avocado butter, grilled limes and aleppo chilli

Easy Ottolenghi summer recipes: starters and snacks | Yotam Ottolenghi (4)

In the interests of using up a whole avocado, this will make more butter than you need, but that’s no great hardship because it’s gorgeous on toast (see my earlier column on avocados for pimping that with a fresh tomato salsa) . You can make the butter well in advance and keep it in the fridge, but take it out 30 minutes before serving, so it’s not fridge-cold. Serves four as a snack.

1 very ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and flesh roughly chopped
60g unsalted butter, softened
3 limes – 1 zested and juiced, the other 2 cut into quarters
4 corn cobs, cut in half widthways to make 8 smaller cobs
20g pecorino, finely grated
5g mint leaves, finely shredded
1 tsp aleppo chilli (or ½ tsp if using a stronger type of chilli flake)

Put the avocado, butter, a teaspoon each of lime zest and juice, and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in the small bowl of a food processor. Blitz until smooth and whipped, then refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Ventilate the kitchen and put a large griddle pan on a high heat. Once it’s very hot, chargrill the cobs for 10 minutes, turning them regularly, until charred all over, then transfer to a plate. Griddle the flesh sides of the lime wedges for two minutes, until they’re striped with dark char marks, but take care not to char the skin.

Serve two pieces of corn per person, spreading a tablespoon of avocado butter over each one before sprinkling with the pecorino, mint and chilli. Serve with the lime wedges alongside.

  • Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
Easy Ottolenghi summer recipes: starters and snacks | Yotam Ottolenghi (2024)
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