Ottolenghi books

Y’all, is there a consensus on which O book is the best one? Thinking about making my H a gift. He is super into interesting ways to get more veggies into his diet. I know the recipes are fairly complicated, but hopefully he is up for a challenge :slight_smile:

Good question! I have all the books, except Nopi, but including his latest, Flavor. TBH, I haven’t cooked out of them enough to give a very useful opinion, or review. I’ve made a couple of things from Jerusalem that turned out well. However, I do find his recipes a bit daunting. That said, I may be inclined to point you towards Jerusalem or Simple. All of them are absolutely beautiful books, chock full of interesting spins on things. He seems to reinvent the wheel with his creations, drawing upon a lot of different influences.

I hope others more fluent with his books will post their thoughts, as I’m interested in this question too.

It may be helpful to know your H’s skill level in the kitchen, or what some of his food preferences are.

O seems to be in love with rutabaga in his new book, Flavor.

Let me know if I can help you narrow it down further. I’ll be happy to look at the books, as to organization or the like.


Thank you for your generous offer. Ok, his skill level in the kitchen is maybe 4-5 of 10. He has little experience with complicated techniques. I guess I don’t either though. He is really looking for lots of interesting and inventive ways to use vegetables. Meat recipes are fine, just not the focus. Perhaps one of the books has more veg heavy content? And then also maybe one of them is a bit simpler for the home cook, or has fewer of those errors and nits that people are always finding in cookbooks that an experienced person would see before they made the recipe, and a less experienced person would just try to figure out what went wrong after. I have no problems with rutabaga, but some variety would be nice :slight_smile:

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A very limited contribution I can make is that vegetarian friends of mine love and often use Jerusalem and every single thing they have made me out of Jerusalem has been delicious. They are not fussy cooks or up for complicated cooking projects so considering the rap his books get it has always surprised me how much they love that book and made me think that perhaps long ingredient lists as opposed to complicated cooking have some folks put off? I don’t know.


After perusing the O books, I think you couldn’t go wrong with either Jerusalem, or Plenty. Both books have a lot of recipes, creativity and instructions, broken down into steps. Good photos in each book, with Jerusalem having additional shots of the city and it’s markets.

My first pick would be Jerusalem because I think it has great food, stories, and recipes. He co-wrote it with his Palestinian business partner, so both Israeli and Palestinian foods are featured, but with O’s unique spins on them usually; there are some that are more traditional. While it’s not meat centric by any means, it does have recipes calling for chicken, fish and lamb. Eggplant, and other wonderful vegetables show up a lot too. I think there’s a great synergy going on with the book, and it seems like an adventure.

Plenty, on the other hand is vegetable centric, with the book divided on chapters for the vegetables. Think this is an excellent way to organize a veg cookbook. His combinations are creative and sound fabulous. (I need to get cooking)!

Be advised that the recipes call for generous amounts of dairy, and he doesn’t skimp on olive oil either. Those can be adjusted easily enough by the cook though.

I’ve heard that once you buy the basics and spices needed for his recipes, though long, they come together fairly easily. I think either book would provide your H with some wonderful recipes and ideas, but also be books he can grow with too.

Let us know what you decide on @Sasha.

My 2 cents for now.


We’re not vegetarian, but most of our cooking is, and echo the recommendations for Jerusalem. Like GretchenS’s friends, we mostly avoid complicated cooking projects, but we’ve found delicious recipes in Jerusalem. I’ve flipped through the other books, but for some reason wasn’t as taken with them.


Of course I could get them both. I’d like to try to exert a little self restraint though :slight_smile:
So Lambchop just to understand better, did you say you think Jerusalem over Plenty? Or either could be good and Plenty has more veg dishes? Trying to make sure I understand your rec.

Yes, Jerusalem would be my first pick of the two. Plenty is all about vegetables, with O’s unique style. Most recipes in both books could easily be adapted to include or omit meat or dairy, or smaller amounts of either, IMO @Sasha. Either book will provide dozens of ideas for using a lot of different vegetables.

Plenty is organized by chapters of different veg, making it easy to use for garden overflow or CSA boxes, but isn’t a comprehensive A-Z guide for cooking with vegetables, if that makes sense.


I own Simple, Plenty and Jerusalem. I’ve cooked at least 8 recipes from Jerusalem, and haven’t cooked any recipes from Plenty or Simple.

I like his recipes, but they can be so fussy. I suppose Simple is less fussy. I should take another look. I’ve mostly been cooking other ethnic stuff lately. I was very Ottolenghi-centric for 5 or 6 years, and went to hear him speak thrice.


Why do you think you have 3 books but only cooked from 1 of them? Just happened, or are the other 2 more complicated, less accurate, or some other reason they are less attractive?

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I’d go for Jerusalem, both for the recipes and for the beautiful photos and narrative that give them context. However…the recipes I’ve tried from Simple have been really good and less complicated. Once your H has gotten into the Ottolenghi groove, Chef Ottolenghi has a column in the Guardian - I’ll often search that when I’m looking for his take on a particular ingredient (usually a vegetable)


Oops…Ottolenghi’s column


His cookbooks have nice pictures.

I bought Plenty because I found it on sale, and Simple because I was a bit of an Ottolenghi fan girl at the time. I like the idea of eating more vegetables, prepared in ways I might not usually prepare them. The reality is that I am in too much of a rush to make his recipes most nights.

I probably have cooked 2 dozen of his recipes that have been published in the Guardian.

I own dozens of cookbooks I haven’t gotten around to cooking from. The truth is, although I buy cookbooks, and am gifted cookbooks, I am more likely to look up recipes online and use those on a weeknight.

The Ottolenghi recipes I’ve made many times are his mejadra from Jerusalem and his poached pears with saffron.

Here are some recipes from Simple. I don’t find them that simple.


Thank you. I’m the same way, I love to collect cookbooks and read them, look at the pictures. When I actually need a recipe, I almost always google something.


Thank you my friends. He will be getting a copy of Jerusalem in his Chanukah stocking :slight_smile:


If it’s to be in a Chanukah stocking then Jerusalem is definitely the way to go. Even if it wasn’t I’d still recommend it. I love that book.


I have 6 books by Ottolenghi (3 were overstock purchased at Costco) and Jerusalem by far is my favorite.

Prior to moving to Los Angeles from San Francisco, my exposure to Middle Eastern and North African ingredients was very limited. Jerusalem is the cookbook I turned to for recipes using ingredients like sumac, Syrian/Aleppo pepper, rose water, barberries, harissa, tahini (besides making hummus) and savory uses of cardamom.

The condiments section in Jerusalem is invaluable with its entries for harissa, zhoug, preserved lemons, dukkah and labneh.

I agree with @Phoenikia on many points about Simple and my main complaint about it is the use of a particular brand of rose flavored harissa without offering substitutions.


Perhaps something like The Flexitarian Table or Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone would be more useful. Neither are by Yotam Ottolenghi. I haven’t seen the former but do have the Deborah Madison book. It has recipes listed according to the main produce ingredient. There’s a focus on recipes that can stand alone as vegetarian meals, or be supplemented with animal protein.

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+1 on the condiments section of the Jerusalem book. Interesting and useful.


Thanks - he has mentioned YO a few times, and we had one of his books at home for a short while from the library. He really enjoys Mediterranean ingredients and spices, so I think that is a good choice for him.