What is an Ottolenghi you might ask? It's not some fun-sounding type of car (though I dream of the day I'll once again even have a car). Nor is it a silly new exercise fad. It's not an herb. It's not some exotic fruit. Ottolenghi is a last name (first name: Yotam) and he's kind of a BFD chef-man. I really don't know that much about him, except the dude knows his veg. Just look at his gorgeous new cookbook! Plenty! With what appears to be baby eggplants and rosemary and some luscious yogurt sauce with pomegranate seeds, of all bright and beautiful things, sprinkled on top, standing proud on the book jacket. And guys...that's just the cover of this thing. I'm in love with this cookbook (and it's hard to make me fall hard for an eggplant) but fall I have, and love I'm in.
The roomie brought this into the house at the beginning of February, and thank heavens because February is absolutely my least favorite month of the year. It's an entire month of living that saying "it's darkest before the dawn," which doesn't make for a fun 29 days. Hours drag, and it seems like night will never end. Wind blows. I think I saw the sun last Thursday. I'm over stews at this point. I mean...one can only have so much veggie chili, you know?
But Ottolenghi came in and brightened the place up. We made a cold noodle dish, Soba noodles with Eggplant and Mango, which doesn't sound appealing at all in February, but trust a girl here. Chilled soba (buckwheat) noodles, tossed with pan-fried eggplant, mango, basil and cilantro, and a lime-chile dressing. Goodness gracious. I swear, it's been a while since I ate four helpings of a cold noodle salad (remember our Vietnamese Crack Salad obsession?) but this was such an interesting dish I couldn't stop myself, and relatively healthy to boot. The sweetness of the mango combined with the tang of the dressing, the freshness of the herbs, the slippery coolness of the noodles and saltiness of the eggplant were powerful reminders of summer, of beautiful and and zippy flavors, and it helped all of February move just a little bit faster for this desert gal.
Oh, and Happy Leap Day! Won't say that again for another four years, so hope this extra day was full of good things for you all.