Customer Reviews: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi
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on March 28, 2011
I have been eagerly awaiting the US release of this book since its UK release last year.
I have the (UK version) of the first Ottolenghi book, which is easily my favorite cookery book of my (embarrasingly large) collection. I've never been let down by one of his recipes, and I've made most of them.

I was so excited to receive this in the mail, and I can say that the wait for this book was worth it.
The photography is gorgeous, and for those of you who like a picture to accompany every recipe, you got it.

I love how the book is laid out in chapters by main ingredient. This is especially helpful for those who belong to a CSA/Veg Box scheme and are looking for something to do with the chard/cabbage/leeks etc.

The commentary on each recipe is thoughtful and helpful. The flavor combinations that Mr. Ottolenghi uses are thoughtful and interesting, and often allow us to enjoy a vegetable in a way that we had not previously. I often feel like I'm doing my body a favor by making one of his recipes, given that they feature abundant quantities of fresh vegetables and whole grains.

I've never written a review on Amazon before, but I do rely on them heavily when making purchases, so I wanted to pass on what a gem this book is.
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In his introduction to this book, Yotam Ottolenghi writes that that each dish is based around one of his favourite ingredients. This has led to an idiosyncratic organisation of recipes: some components (such as aubergines) have their own chapter; others are organised botanically (such as brassicas) and others reflect associations that are part of the way Ottolenghi shapes his menus.
These recipes are based on meatless dishes and reflect eclectic influences including the Middle East, South East Asia and Latin America. The book is full of delicious, mouth-watering recipes.
The chapter headings may give some idea:

Funny Onions
Courgettes and Other Squashes
The Mighty Aubergine
Leaves Cooked and Raw
Green Things
Green Beans
Pasta, Polenta, Couscous
Fruit with Cheese

The recipes are accompanied by anecdotes and by mouth-wateringly beautiful photographs. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. The amount of preparation required varies between dishes: some are quick and easy, others will require more time. But it's worth it. There is a recipe here for just about any occasion.

I first borrowed this book from the library, but quickly realised that I needed my own copy.

A note for American readers: the ingredients are listed in grams and millilitres rather than cups and ounces.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on April 10, 2011
I just want to mention that Plenty (white cover) and Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London's Ottolenghi are EXACTLY the same book! The only little differences are :
- the first is the original book published 4 the UK (2010), the other in the US (2011)
- the first uses grams, millilitres, the other uses cups, ounces and pounds. Both use tsp and tbsp
- the ingredients appear in the order they are used in the second book
- the covers are different but all images and recipes inside the books are EXACTLY identical
- some ingredients are named differently : double cream for heavy cream, caster sugar for sugar, broad beans for fava beans, etc.
- the quantities in the second book are rounded : 400g asparagus is 1 lb
I bought the second book by mistake and I prefer the first one for the metric units.

What a wonderful book !
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on May 15, 2010
I buy a lot of cookery books, and borrow even more from the library. Most of them are getting quite interchangeable these days. Yotam Ottolenghi's new book however has nothing I've seen in other books. All the recipes are fresh and original, but not difficult or fiddly. I have spent the last few years tearing his recipes out of the Guardian at the weekend, now I don't have to. His recipes work, are full of flavour, and as I said before quite different. An excellent book even for someone who has hundreds of cookery books.
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I cook daily for a vegetarian household and use a fair number of cookbooks to keep things interesting (Greens, Moosewood, etc.). When a friend gave us "Plenty" recently as a gift, I was a little blase about it at first--just another cookbook. But, wow, this one is really something different. With heavy emphasis on herbs and spices, this collection of recipes kicks vegetables up to a much higher level. I'm working my way through it slowly (there are a lot of requests for repeats) and so far have tried the green couscous (herbs on steroids); cauliflower frittata (you won't go back to mac and cheese); black pepper tofu (unbelievably good), mushroom and herb polenta (the best polenta dish I've ever had) and the ultimate mushroom lasagna. And a huge bonus--most of the dishes that I've tried so far are relatively QUICK and EASY to prepare.

The overall accent for the food in this book is Middle Eastern, with an emphasis on fresh everything, especially herbs. It does not include much for dessert, but I like that the focus is on main dishes. The photography/illustrations are lush and the food actually turns out pretty much as pictured. This is an unusually well written cookbook that actually adds something to vegetarian cooking. I just bought three more copies to send to friends for Christmas--it's that good! Highly recommended.
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on May 20, 2013
I am always on the prowl for the latest and the greatest cookbook. Everyone has their preferences and I lean toward cookbooks that feature fresh ingredients, gourmet preparations and presentations, and an international flair.

I picked up Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi with these criteria in mind about a year ago when it was making the rounds as the hot new vegetarian cookbook. The author is originally from Israel and so of course middle eastern culture, ingredients, and technique heavily influence his repertoire. He owns a restaurant in London and for several years he wrote a column for The Guardian press on vegetarian cuisine. Pretty good for a chef who isn't actually a vegetarian. He became well known for his creativity with fresh vegetables and the recipes laid out in Plenty are those that have appeared over the years in his Guardian column.

The cookbook itself is beautiful. The cover art (a shot of a row of roasted eggplants dressed with a yogurt pomegranate sauce) is appetizing and inviting and the book has a soft, thick, and durable cover. The recipes are organized according to main ingredient (a chapter on tomatoes for example) and there are many hand drawn illustrations throughout the book as well as full color photographs of prepared recipes.

Although the recipes are vegetarian, they are not vegan- eggs, yogurt, and cheese are featured frequently. For those who prefer not to exclude meat, I'm happy to advise that Ottolenghi's recipes often provide an excellent base for meals to which meat can easily be included.

Things I have made from this cookbook:

Leek fritters
These were alright. Sautéed leeks and shallots, folded into an egg batter and fried. We dressed them with the suggested accompanying yogurt cilantro sauce and while I found them acceptable and would eat them again, I don't get overly excited at the thought of them; they don't make me drool with anticipation.

Chard and saffron omelets
This dish is a good way to get greens into your diet. A very thin omelet is prepared with a heavy handful of fresh herbs from the garden mixed in, then it's stuff with cooked Swiss chard and sliced potatoes and drizzled with a light garlic yogurt sauce. It was pretty good, but the general audience I cooked it for asserted it would be even better with bacon crumbled into the filling.

Celeriac and lentils with hazelnut and mint
I thought this dish was very good, but again better suited as a side than a main entrée. You can't really go wrong with hazelnuts! I'd definitely recommend this as a side to grilled lamb. That would be fabulous and the flavors would play off each other well.

Jerusalem artichokes with Manouri and basil oil
This recipe was difficult to source. I'll save you some time and let you know than in most of the United States, Jerusalem artichokes (which don't look like artichokes at all) are referred to as sunchokes and they're actually a root vegetable. Finding them, and the Manouri cheese took trips to several different grocery stories before I lucked out (Wegman's for the win!). As for the taste of the finished dish, again it was ok. It didn't blow my socks off but it wasn't terrible either.

Recommended with reservations

I guess I'm leading to a conclusion that, at least for me, the flavors expressed in Ottolenghi's recipes are good (and good for you) but not strong enough to stand on their own. I plan to fall back on these recipes as side dishes for my non-vegetarian main entrees. I do have a number of other vegetarian cookbooks that feature recipes that are bold and spicy, or rich and deeply flavorful and those are the sorts of recipes that I can center a whole meal around. I can't wholeheartedly recommend the book for vegetarians who won't have meat to rely on to carry the meal. And of course this book is probably not for those who don't a taste for middle eastern cuisine (lots and lots of yogurt, lemons, fresh herbs, olive oil).
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on February 15, 2014
I bought this book after reading all the positive reviews. This book is praised for being the best vegetable cookbook in years. I honestly don't know why. This book is certainly filled with many great recipes, however, a lot of them seem to be more about cheese and other dairy condiments. I'm not opposed to dairy by any means, but I was disappointed that so much of the book was filled with cheesy tarts and other recipes that I feel take away from the vegetable at hand. Certainly not a bad book, but I would not have purchased this if I was able to pre-read, only because I was hoping for something with less dependency on dairy. Moreover, I found many recipes to be no-brainers, such as a recipe for quesadillas. I would recommend this book to someone who wants to incorporate more vegetables into their diet, not necessarily to an experienced cook that already uses a lot of veggies in daily cooking.
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on November 28, 2012
I selected this book based on all the overwhelmingly good reviews. I want to eat more vegetables and desire to expand my knowledge. When the book arrived, I was excited and immediately sat down to read it and make my shopping list. But, as I looked through it, I realized a few things that make this not a good book for me: it is more gourmet than I am - not a problem for many I'm sure, but most of the recipes take longer than I have as a working Mom. And, too many ingredients are needed and many of them I have never heard of. I don't know how to say it, but it's for "foodies" which I am not. Many people will love this book, I was just looking for some quick new ideas where I could expand the types of vegetables we eat. Good book for many, but not for me.
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on June 7, 2013
This is one book where you are better off buying the physical book, not the ebook. The recipes that start with a sauce or other component are unusable because there is no separation in the ingredients, they all run together so it's hard to tell where one set of ingredients ends and the other set starts.
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on February 19, 2011
This book is artfully done. Full color photos are great. The recipes are inspiring and out of the ordinary. The only problem, measurements are in metric units and some of the ingredients I've never even heard of, let alone able to find them in the grocery store. I think they are items that are eaten more in other countries. As someone who loves exotic gourmet foods, and would dare call myself a foodie, definitely made me realize that there are lots of produce and seasonings that I have yet to discover. Have to pick through the ones with more available ingredients but definitely worth the money overall. Print out a metric conversion table for easier measuring if you live in the U.S.
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