A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”

Anna: Tonight I was having my Ogilvy ladees round for dinner, and what a happy coincidence that we’re doing the Ottolenghi book this month as Tiff and Kate D are veggie!

Kate W: I’m not.

Anna: No, but you’ll have to pretend you are for tonight.  There are only enough sausages for Peter.  Anyway, choosing a menu was actually quite hard once I got down to it, but I settled on “Hummus with ful” (or ‘you crazy fool’ as it became known over the evening) and “Sweetcorn polenta”.  I chose the hummus for two reasons: because it would be nice to eat slowly while drinking and chatting, and because I’d been introduced to ful in the last year by a work colleague and I loved it.  Plus, Tiff has lived in the Middle East so I figured she could give an honest opinion.

Tiff: I will.

Anna: The polenta was a bit of a random choice.  Not something I would ever go for in a million years, but in for a penny as they say.  It wasn’t until I started cooking that I realised that this was going to be a meal of four mushes.  Four slightly different coloured mushes.

Kate D: We’re in the mood for mush!

Anna: The first hurdle was finding dried broad beans for the Crazy Fool.  Kate D came to the rescue.

Kate D: The story behind the broad beans… I went out for some fajitas in Highbury, as you do, and I walked past my local friendly Turkish shop.  And I remembered that you couldn’t get any dried broad beans and you were going to have to go out of your way, so I went in and bought them for you.  They were posted courtesy of Ogilvy franking!

Anna: I wish I had a nice Turkish shop to hand, it would make my life a lot easier at the moment.  The recipe says it’s for six, but I have an EU hummus mountain in my fridge.  You are all going to be taking some home.  It was time-consuming to prepare because of the soaking and the boiling and the whizzing.  I’m not sure it’s nice enough to make me want to go through all that again.  Tiff, does it taste authentic?

Tiff: I’d say no.  In the nicest possible way, whilst it is very tasty it wasn’t strong enough in flavour.  It didn’t have the tang you get with real Middle Eastern hummus and ful.

Kate W: I think I’m conditioned to the shop bought ones, but it was still really nice.

Kate D: I liked it.  It did taste different from supermarket hummus, but it was like the ones you buy from the friendly Turkish shop – it’s smoother, has more tahini… and I was a big fan of the olive oil and paprika on top.

Tiff: Vic should try it.  He’s the hummus king.

Anna: Next up is the Sweetcorn polenta.  I had a bit of frustration making this.  The recipe called for 6 corn cobs, but advised that you need 550g of kernels.  Which was 4 cobs.  So I cooked them, whizzed them, washed the pan up, thought I was finally done with all my cooking and then looked at the quantity and just knew there wouldn’t be enough.  So I started again with 2 more cobs.  Grr.  I’m a bit worried it’s too wet.

Kate W: I love it.  It’s tasty, a great consistency… not too mushy at all.

Anna: The aubergine sauce that goes on top was very easy, but I cooked 2 aubergines rather than the 1 stated as again I knew there wouldn’t be enough.  Are the aubergines too slimy?

Ogilvy ladees: No!

Tiff: I have a problem with aubergines.  Being veggie I get them all the time and they tend to be cooked badly. But these were just right.  And I don’t normally like polenta because it gets solid.  But this was lovely and soft.

Kate D: The salt of the feta and the sweetness of the sweetcorn went perfectly, if anything it could have done with more feta.  Polenta is normally bland, but this was a nice way to eat it.  Lovely and sweet. And it looked beautiful. Really vibrant colours. Really Mediterranean.

Anna: Hurrah, I’m glad that was a success.  But I’m a bit tired of Mr Ottolenghi’s book right now, all that faffing.  I think I need a break for a few days!

Kate W: More meat next time please.

A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”

8 thoughts on “A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”

  1. Peter says:

    The sweetcorn polenta was nice, but did look like babyfood. It only revealed a texture when a piece of feta came to the fore.

    The sausages were good. In your face Yoko Otty.

  2. Georgia says:

    I haven’t got my book here. Does he make you soak the chick peas for the hummus? I have googled lots about this and the consensus is generally that it’s better to buy dry and soak. Not sure I can be arsed unless it’s a dramatic difference.
    This all looks delicious to me…just not all at the same time…unless you are under 18 months and have few teeth 😉

    1. annastamour says:

      Yes, this recipe requires soaking overnight, then boiling for about 2 hours before whizzing. I think this results in a smoother hummus as the chickpeas are really soft before they are whizzed. So, if you prefer the smoother style then this would be the way to go. But if you like a bit of texture, and want your hummus in 10 minutes rather than 24 hours then tinned would be the way to go!

  3. Vic Haidar says:

    mmmmm the “crazy fool”!…. The “by the book” recipe lacked that depth of flavour, in fact was quite bland and had quite a coarse texture.

    In my humble opinion, it needed more garlic – to give taste a boost, more lemon juice and a splash of olive oil – to make it a smoother consistency and give it a bit of tang and possibly a pinch of salt for seasoning.

    Would loved to have been a “fly-on-the-wall that evening!

    Go Ogilvy girls, Go.

    The hummus king

    1. annastamour says:

      Thanks Vic, I’m sure that Peter wished you had been there to balance things out a bit! So, do your suggestions refer to the Ful or the Hummus?

  4. As Kirstin knows I love hummus, but I have never really followed any recipe. I have had the real thing in Lebanon, but that was only for a week and a looong time ago. They soaked their chickpeas over there. But I make it both ways depending on how much time I have (although I use a pressure cooker for cooking them). What really makes a difference in my opinion is putting the chickpeas through one of those mouli things rather than whizzing the whole thing in a blender as this way you get rid of the skins which don’t taste nice and change the falvour of the final product. And I don’t like tahin, so I use very little of it.
    @ Anna: I made hummus on the very same day!

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