Yotam Ottolenghi smiling
In much of the Northern Hemisphere, the leaves are changing, the air is turning chilly, and the nights are arriving earlier. That’s right: Winter is almost here, and there’s nothing any of us can do to stop it. While the coming of cold weather might have some of us hiding out inside in the heat with sun lamps trying to stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter does have its own set of pleasures too.
One of the big joys of winter is the food. You no longer start sweating the second you turn on your oven, and baked goods, hearty braises, and stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods all become much more appealing than they are in the heat of summer. The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen is located in North London, where the weather is often cold, damp, and dark, but the kitchen’s recipes never fail to fill your taste buds with sunshine. Who better to ask for tips about warming winter comfort food than the test kitchen’s founder, Yotam Ottolenghi, and its head chef, Noor Murad? In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Ottolenghi shared one of his favorite things to make when the mercury starts dropping.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Pick For A Quick And Easy Winter Warmer
Pasta with white beans
The combination of pasta and beans is a comfort food classic; perhaps the most famous pasta and bean dish is Italy’s pasta e fagioli, a slowly-stewed mixture of beans, broth, pasta, and a little meat. Yotam Ottolenghi’s variation on this theme comes together quickly, so it’s perfect for weeknight dinners. It also adds some freshness to what can be a very heavy starch-on-starch recipe. Oh — and it’s vegetarian.
“If I want to do a quick meal, I do pasta with either chickpeas or cooked beans that I have, like butter beans or cannellini beans or any beans from a can … In this recipe, we make a pesto from rocket and pine nuts, then grate cheese on top, haloumi.” (For any confused Americans, rocket is British English for arugula.)
You can find this recipe in the new book, “Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things,” but you can really think of this dish as a loose set of instructions rather than an exact formula. As Ottolenghi said, “When I make it at home, I make it with whatever herbs I have. It could also be a tomato base or tomato and pepper base.”
The chef also mentioned that this meal is a big hit with his kids, so that’s a plus for all the parents out there. The next time you need a quick meal to warm you up on a cold day, take it from him — it’s as easy as grabbing a can of beans and some pasta from the pantry.
“Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things” is in bookstores now. You can buy it on Amazon.