Have all you food-blog-readers out there heard of Yotam Ottolenghi? He’s an Israeli-born British chef who I absolutely love! He has restaurants in the UK, at least five cookbooks, a website full of traditional & inventive Middle Eastern recipes, and a weekly column in The Guardian. He also has one of the best, most gorgeous, most mouth-watering Instagram feeds to follow out there (@ottolenghi) – you probably want to start following him!
As your average American who doesn’t dine out in London often or subscribe to The Guardian, I hadn’t heard of Yotam Ottolenghi until a few years ago when my sister gave me one of his cookbooks for Christmas. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times on here, and if I haven’t I should, as it’s one of my favorites. It’s called Jerusalem and was authored by Ottolenghi and another chef named Sami Tamimi. I love this cookbook for its delicious recipes, gorgeous photography, random stories interspersed with the recipes, and the fact that it features recipes based on both chef-authors’ heritages. Both grew up in Jerusalem, but Ottolenghi is of Israeli-Jewish heritage, while Tamimi is of Palestinian-Arab descent. Throughout the cookbook, they show the similarities and pervasiveness of recipes traditional to both groups. Maybe my favorite section of the cookbook frames the struggles of Jerusalem’s various residents like this:
“Alas, although Jerusalemites have so much in common, food, at the moment, seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place. The dialogue between Jews and Arabs, and often among Jews themselves, is almost nonexistent. It is sad to note how little daily interaction there is between communities, with people sticking together in closed, homogenous groups. Food, however, seems to break down those boundaries on occasion… It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it – what have we got to lose? – to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will.”
I love the sentiment, and if anyone has the unifying hummus recipe, it’s probably these guys.
As I mentioned, Mr. Ottolenghi’s instagram feed is great, and I see posts from him (or his surrogates probably…) nearly every day. Said posts make me want to whip up his recipes, nearly every day. I must have seen something inspiring in recent days, because when confronted with my zoodles for tonight’s dinner, I felt an overwhelming desire to use some tahini. The tahini sauce I coated the zoodles with tonight is a scaled-down and warmed up version of the recipe in Jerusalem.
Zoodles with Roasted Chickpeas
- 2 large zucchini
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, & dried
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tahini paste
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
- Black pepper
- 2 tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Toss chickpeas in 1 tbsp olive oil + paprika, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Spread out on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Stir up once about halfway through cooking time.
- Meanwhile, prepare zoodles. See here if you need a little help with that!
- Next, warm the other 1 tbsp of olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for just about 3 minutes.
- Now lower the heat of the burner to a low. Wait a minute or two, then stir the tahini paste into the olive oil.
- Add the lemon juice and a turn or two of black pepper. Whisk together until well-combined. Add water by the tablespoon. (Don’t use all the water – or use more – if you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce.)
- Add the zoodles to the pan. Toss with the sauce. Cover and increase heat back to medium for 5 minutes.
- Portion out the zoodles into individual bowls. Top with the roasted chickpeas.