Yotam Ottolenghi recipes: Confit trout salad with golden beetroot and ricotta. plus sprouting broccoli with anchovy and smoky crumbs (2024)

A food processor, or even one of those small bowls that fit on a stick blender, isa real treasure. No,that's not an overstatement. Herb pastes made withnuts, cheese and a host of other ingredients may not be in the daily repertoire of every domestic cook, but they're one of the easiest, most effective and labour-saving ways Iknow to give adish a flavour boost.

If you've never made one before, keep it simple to start with: blitz atablespoon or two of olive oil with a single herb (parsley, tarragon, basil or wild garlic, say), then freeze or refrigerate. Get in the habit of making pastes like this whenever you get hold of a good bunch of herbs, and you'll never look back. They're hugely versatile and invaluable. Iuse them all the time, to finish off soups and stews, to dress salads or roasted veg, to marinate fish or meat, and to spoon over pasta, a poached egg or even aslice of toast.

Once you've got the basics down pat, you'll be experimenting in no time. Grated parmesan, garlic and pine nuts will turn a basic basil and oil paste into old-fashioned pesto, Italy's greatest contribution to western civilisation (OK, I may be overstating things a bit this time). In fact, garlic works well with any herb, upgrading even the simplest paste to a slightly more complex sauce. Nuts, especially walnuts, pistachios and pine nuts, are always welcome additions, while anchovies, capers and olives give a paste a more grown-up feel. Use these more sophisticated concoctions as a salsa for cooked red meat or fish, as a marinade or even as a braising liquid. Grated citrus skin (but no juice: that discolours the herbs, unless you use them straight away) adds zip, as do sweet spices such as cardamom or allspice, though use those sparingly.

Basically, you can play with, pulse and pulverise whatever ingredients you fancy. And the beauty of it is that none of these pastes takes more than a few seconds to put together.

Confit trout salad with golden beetroot and ricotta

You can prepare every element of this dish bar the dressing a day ahead, and if you do I'd recommend you also wrap the ricotta in muslin and drain it over a bowl in the fridge overnight. That way, you'll only have an assembly job on the day (though please make sure all theingredients are at room temperature beforehand). If you make it on the day, the only difference will be that the ricotta will be wetter and a little less firm. Ifyou end up with anyfishy oil left over, lucky you: it'san ideal excuse to make fish soup. Serves four.

450g golden baby beetroot, stalksremoved
210ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2whole sprigs fresh tarragon, plus 30g picked tarragon leaves
8 whole black peppercorns
2 lemons, the skin of 1 peeled into long strips, the other finely grated, and both juiced
600g trout fillet, skin-on, pinboned and cut into 7cm pieces
2 tsp lemon juice
40g rocket leaves
100g ricotta (strained, if possible)
1 tsp aniseed (or ¾ tsp fennel seeds), lightly toasted and roughly crushed

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the beetroot in a roasting pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix well, cover the pan with foil andbake for 50-60 minutes, until aknife inserted into the beetroot goes through easily. When cool enough to handle, peel the beetroot and cut into 2cm-thick wedges.

Heat the remaining oil and the thyme in a large sauté pan (ideally one that's about 24cm wide), add the two tarragon sprigs, the whole peppercorns and the strips of lemonpeel. Cook over a very low heat untilsmall bubbles begin to appear in the oil at the bottom of thepan, then add the trout pieces skin side down (if your pan's not quite big enough, it's fine if they overlap slightly). Cook on a very lowheat foreight to 12 minutes, regularly spooning the hot oil over the fish, until just cooked through but still abit pink inside. Remove the trout with a slotted spoon, placeon kitchen paper to drain andsprinkle aquarter of a teaspoon of sea salt over it. Strain the oil through muslin orafine strainer, and set aside.

Put the tarragon leaves in the small bowl of a food processor with the juice of both lemons, three tablespoons of the fish oil and aquarter of a teaspoon of salt. Processuntil smooth and set aside.

When you're ready to serve, spread out half of the rocket over alarge platter. Break the fish into 3cm to 4cm pieces, pull off and discard the skin and layer the trout on top of the rocket. Scatter the beetroot and remaining rocket on top, and drizzle the herb sauce over everything. To finish the dish, dot rough spoonfuls of ricotta all over the salad, sprinkle over the grated lemon zest and the aniseed or fennel seeds, drizzle a bit of the fish oil over the top and serve.

Sprouting broccoli with anchovy and smoky crumbs

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes: Confit trout salad with golden beetroot and ricotta. plus sprouting broccoli with anchovy and smoky crumbs (1)

I've always got some of the anchovypaste used in this dish in my fridge because I like it on my toast in the morning (though you may not wantto come near me afterwards). It's also great stirred into hot giant couscous or fusilli with semi-dried cherry tomatoes and maybe a few black olives, and ittotally transforms broccoli and cauliflower. The aromatic crumbs are equally handy, so make more than you need and store in an airtight jar. They're great on a leafy salad that could do with abit of crunch by way of assistance or in asoup that's somehow lacking inresolution. Serves four.

400g (net weight) purple sprouting broccoli, ends trimmed
½ tsp hot smoked paprika
50g fresh white crustless bread, pulled by hand into 1cm crumbs
4 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper

For the anchovy paste
25g tinned anchovy fillets
20g parsley
1 small shallot, chopped
15g unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, crushed

Bring a large pan of salted water to aboil. Add the broccoli, blanch for three minutes, strain, refresh undercold running water, drain in acolander, then leave to dry on aclean tea towel.

Put all the ingredients for the anchovy paste in a small food processor bowl, work until smooth and set aside.

Put the paprika in a medium bowl with a tablespoon of cold water and stir to a paste. Add the breadcrumbs and stir so that they are all coated. Put a large sauté pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the paprika breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, for four to five minutes, until dark brown and very crisp. Strain the crumbs, reserving the oil, and leave to cool.

Return the pan to the heat along with a tablespoon of the reserved breadcrumb oil. Add the blanched broccoli and the anchovy paste, and cook, stirring gently, for a minute or two until hot. Add the breadcrumbs and a good grind of black pepper, and cook, stirring, for a minute more. Remove from the heat, spread the broccoli and crumbs on a serving platter and serve drizzled with some more of the oil. Serve at once.

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes: Confit trout salad with golden beetroot and ricotta. plus sprouting broccoli with anchovy and smoky crumbs (2024)
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