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on 26 April 2010
If you are a fan of Ottolenghi's weekly column 'The New Vegetarian' in the Guardian, then you may (like me) vaguely remember reading some of these recipes before. You may even have cooked a few, or (more often in my case) vowed to cook them at some point, possibly cutting the recipe out, or just throwing the magazine on the stack in the corner of your cluttered desk, or kitchen table, then tidied them away and allowed the Pear Crostini (Dec 2007), or the Puy Lentil Gallette (Jan 2007), or even (shame on you) the Scrambled Smoky Duck Eggs on Sourdough (June 2008) to drop off the wipe-clean tablecloth of your culinary agenda. Which is why this book is a dream-come-true: it is a cupped palm collecting all those crumbs (adding some previously unpublished ones for good measure) and repackaging them in a stunning, beautifully photographed hardback book. 'Plenty', indeed.

I absolutely believe that this is the best book of vegetarian food I've ever read or cooked from. The reason for that is, I genuinely never once felt like I was reading or cooking from a vegetarian book. Some vegetarian cookbooks speak 'meat' as a kind of Derridean absent subtext almost as loudly as they speak vegetables; I'm thinking of recipes I remember reading in other books like 'vegetable toad in the hole'.

In Ottolenghi's cookbook the absence of meat is silenced, easy-to-forget, totally squashed and rendered unimportant in culinary terms. Of course there is no meat or fish in the 'Artichoke Gratin' (p.178) or the 'Ultimate winter couscous' (p.262) or the 'Saffron tagliatelle with spiced butter' (p.260), 'Halloween Souffles' (p.64) or 'Egg spinach and pecorino pizza' (p.156) because these recipes are complete and perfect and authentic as they are, meat would be an unnecessary embellishment.

It's wonderful to have Ottolenghi's New Vegetarian recipes collected in one place, organized by a central ingredient, so that if you fancy an inventive egg dish or a quirky but wholesome cereal recipe, you know exactly which chapter to consult. This is a great followup to The Ottloenghi Cookbook.
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on 10 May 2010
My wife and I were already fanatical fans of Ottlenghi (the shop -- surely one of the world's greatest purveyor of fresh prepared salads and baked goods), and of Ottlenghi (the book), a cookbook we keep returning to for ideas. So we were delighted to see a new book from the same author/team. We've already sampled a half-dozen recipes from the new book and each one was a success. The new book is more approachable than the first, with a clean, elegant design -- and some recipes which are very straightforward in preparation lead to a transcendent result, like the Jersey Royal potato salad with pesto or the spinach pancakes. We've bookmarked the next half-dozen we want to try and will be tackling them this week!

We actually completely failed to notice that the book was a "vegetarian" book, at least in the narrow sense that it doesn't have recipes for meat. We are avowed carnivores; but the dishes are so inspiring that you might well forget meat for a meal!
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on 22 May 2010
As a lover of Middle Eastern and Italian food, and having tried some recipes before, the quality of the recipes shouldn't have surprised me. Still this book offered a lot of lovely discoveries. Such enjoyable flavour combinations, with healthy, fresh ingredients. Truly life affirming.

Recipes are ordered in chapters like:
Mushrooms
The mighty Aubergine
Pasta, Polenta, Couscous
Cereals
Fruit with Cheese
Green Things
To name a few I particularly like.

What came as a complete surprise though, was the beautiful design of this book. A nice heavy padded hardback, which stays open on the page of your recipe. Beautiful photographs and drawings, as well as a writing style that encourages you to have a go (often providing variation ideas and side dishes by-the-by).

Reassuring bedtime reading, as well as great recipes.

If you like Middle Eastern Veggie Food, you can also find many more, less fancy but nonetheless delicious, recipes in 'Classic Vegetarian Cooking: From the Middle East and North Africa' by Habeeb Salloum that I have reviewed as well.

Plenty to enjoy!
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on 23 November 2015
The recipes seem lovely and the photography is nice in some parts. But there are so few healthy recipes for a vegetable cookbook. Everything is cooked with tons of butter and cream and pastry. Which is ok if that's what you're looking for, but it's not what I had in mind. I was hoping for some inventive new ways to treat veggies that is as tasty as it is healthy. Also some recipes get as many as 3 pictures while some get none, which I found a bit annoying.
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on 29 April 2010
I pre-ordered this book and was very excited to receive it, being the vegetarian food geek that I am. I thought I would start out by bookmarking just a few recipes - but ended up marking almost the entire book - I just want to cook everything! I have already made some of the recipes, which I collected from the New Vegetarian column in the Guardian. The black pepper tofu, the mee goreng, the multi-vegetable paella, the quesadillas and the winter couscous - all extremely tasty!
My perserved lemons are ready to use for the summer (thanks to an excellent recipe from the first Ottolenghi book). I plan to make at least 2 recipes from the new book each weekend! I cannot wait to make the caramelised garlic tart, the green pancakes with lime butter and every single one of the aubergine dishes.
Thank you Ottolenghi - you're a real inspiration and your food is delightful!
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on 15 February 2012
I got this cookbook after I saw it in the bookshop, and I liked it very much, just browsing through.
However, for some reason, after I actually got it, it took me a while before I started cooking from it. Owning already a lot of vegetarian cookbooks, and having a lot of yummy dishes in my "standard repertoire", a lot of the dishes in Plenty seemed good, but none of them actually seemed extraordinary, just from looking at them, so I never got to cooking them.
However, now I finally started to go through the recipes and cook them one by one, and how wrong I was! Most of them were really yummie.
This is definitely not a cookbook if you are not into cooking, since most of the dishes indeed require more than 30 minutes of preparing and some love for cooking! But I don't understand the people complaining about this book. I do not need cookbooks for easy dishes that I throw together in less then 30 minutes. If you are looking for that kind of book, you should probably buy a cookbook that is specifically aimed at this kind of recipes. For the days in the week that I do take the time to cook, this book is wonderful!
Also many people have been complaining about the many ingredients, but I really do not think that the amount or the type of ingredients are extraordinary. I live in a small town in Belgium, and I can usually buy all ingredients in my local supermarket, and if not, it's easy enough to come up with a substitution, or simply leave the ingredient out. Personally, I think a lot of the ingredients are a must in any vegetarian's cupboard, and worth a trek to a bigger city once in a while. And I also do not think that the recipes have that many ingredients, since usually a lot of them are just an assortment of fresh herbs, garlic, onion, oil,...

So: if you're really a novice cook, this book might not be for you, but if you love cooking and have some basic experience, this book is really a MUST!
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on 20 August 2010
The recipe's in this book are simply amazing. They look a little complicated at first sight, but don't let that put you off as the results are just the most delicious meals you will ever eat. I have found that most ingredients are available from asian/middle eastern shops (I live in Birmingham so these are plentiful for me) but many of them can be replaced with similar things.
Give it a go - you won't be disappointed. Especially the black pepper tofu - tofu need never be boring and tasteless again!
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on 30 April 2010
I've only just opened my copy and I'm pleased to see old Guardian favourites long lost in sticky piles of cuttings & unopened bills. The pictures are mouthwatering and the prose enthusiastic and inviting. Who cares that there are no puddies, cakes or meat? You've got the fab first book for those. Cheeky aside... let's hope the recipe on p214 has a little g missing. I'm not sure I can count to 450!
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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) and mushroom and herb polenta (the best polenta dish I've ever had). 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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This was one of the least risky purchases I've ever made, I knew I was going to like it. Ottolenghi's weekly column in the Grauniad always makes my mouth water, but too often I realise I've put the paper into the recycling without saving the recipe. This book which includes many of his Guardian offerings (or variations on them) was absolutely perfect for me. The great thing about Ottolenghi is his originality. I really don't know of another (vegetarian) cookery author who uses ingredients so imaginatively. Yes his ingredient lists are long and sometimes difficult to find outside the large metropolises, but what the heck, this is not every day cooking. This is special occasion cooking. Cooking for visitors, or simply cooking when you want to spend a bit of time over it and create something different.

The chapters are ingredient based, Onions, mushrooms, Aubergines, "Green things", Pulses etc.

To whet your appetite, some of my favourites from this book are:-
* Garlic soup and harissa
* Mushroom ragout with poached duck egg
* Mushroom lasagne
* Courgette and cobnut salad
* Multi vegetable paella
* Soba noodles with aubergine and mango (fabulous)
* Quesadillas
* Caramelised fennel with goats (cheese)
* Mee gorgeng (spicy malaysian noodles with beans and tofu)

This is not a cook book just for vegetarians, it is a cookbook for anyone who likes exciting vibrant food.
Oh, and marvellously it is just a cookbook, we're not asked to buy into a lifestyle or a decolletage.

Highly recommended.
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