Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for Valentine’s Day (2024)

This time last year, many of us were looking forward to a special, one-to-one supper with a loved one. The partner we live with, for example, but perhaps forget to go on dates with; a special meal, quality time, stories saved up to be shared. The past year has, of course, brought a whole new meaning to the idea of “quality time”, and I’m not sure anyone has any great stories they’ve saved for this Valentine’s dinner. Be kind and cut yourself some slack: forget about the top new chat and focus instead on a top new meal. Pat yourself on the back for making it this far, and raise a large glass of something you adore.

Burnt aubergine with feta and harissa oil (pictured above)

All the different elements of this dish can be prepared a day in advance, ready to put together at room temperature before serving.

Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 2

60ml olive oil
2 aubergines
(about 500g)
Flaked sea salt
30g rose harissa
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
130g feta
50ml whole milk
15g pine nuts
, toasted
1 tbsp picked dill
, to serve (optional)

Set a griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate the kitchen. Rub a tablespoon of olive oil all over the aubergines. Once the pan is very hot, lay in the aubergines and char, turning them occasionally, for about 20 minutes (if your aubergines are big, give them a little more time), until blackened all over, but not grey and ashy. Transfer to a rack set over a tray and leave to cool.

Once the aubergines are cool enough to handle, carefully peel them, discarding the burned skins but keeping the stems attached and taking care not to break up the flesh too much. Using a small knife, cut each aubergine from top to bottom, but keeping it intact at both ends and making sure not to cut all the way through. Gently open up the aubergines, then season each one with a half-teaspoon of salt. Return the prepared aubergines to the rack, so any liquid drips off.

In a medium bowl, mix the harissa with the remaining 45ml olive oil, the lemon juice and maple syrup, and set aside.

With a fork, mash the feta with the milk in a small bowl until reasonably smooth, and set aside.

To serve, spoon all the feta mixture on to a large plate with a lip and, using the back of a spoon, spread it out into a circle with a 1½cm border around the edge of the plate. Baste the aubergines in the harissa mixture, then lay them side by side on top of the feta mix. Spoon any remaining harissa mixture on top of the aubergines, letting the oil run over the feta and out towards the edges of the plate.

Sprinkle over the pine nuts and the picked dill, and serve with warmed pitta, if you like.

Prawns in vanilla and rum butter with sticky rice and papaya pickle

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for Valentine’s Day (1)

Vanilla butter and seafood are, to use a dating metaphor, a match made in heaven, but the combination is so rich, it needs to be offset by something sharp, such as this papaya pickle. If you can’t get hold of green papaya, use kohlrabi instead. And if you can’t get giant prawns, use 150g peeled, raw king prawns, and saute them in the butter until just pink. The pickle and the butter can both be made a day ahead, if you prefer.

Prep 20 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 2

For the papaya pickle
2 tbsp lime juice
40ml rice-wine vinegar
1 tbsp palm sugar
, or dark brown sugar
1 vanilla pod, sliced horizontally and seeds scraped out
220g papaya, peeled and julienned
40g spring onions (about 4), trimmed and thinly sliced at an angle
5-6 tbsp (20g) coriander leaves

For the sticky rice
140g Thai sticky rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes, then drained
220ml boiling water
1½ tsp white sesame seeds
, toasted
1½ tsp black sesame seeds, toasted

For the vanilla butter
125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp dark rum
, or brandy
1 mild red chilli, thinly sliced
1 lime, zested, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
2 star anise
6 large raw shell-on prawns
, (about 75g each)
2 tbsp olive oil

In a large, non-reactive bowl, mix the lime juice, rice-wine vinegar, palm sugar, a quarter of the vanilla seeds and a half-teaspoon of salt. Add the papaya, toss to coat and set aside.

Put the rice and boiling water in a small saucepan, and add half a teaspoon of salt. Cover, simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed, then remove from the heat and set aside, still covered.

Put the butter, a tablespoon of rum, the remaining vanilla seeds and empty pod, chilli, lime and star anise in a large frying pan on a low heat. Mix gently with a wooden spoon to combine and melt, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes, while you get on with the prawns. (If you want to get ahead, you can store the infused butter overnight, in which case you’ll need to melt it again over a gentle heat before using.)

Clean the prawns by making an incision in the back just below the head, then use the tip of the knife or a toothpick carefully to pull out the black “vein”.

Set a griddle pan on a high heat. Put the prawns in a bowl with two tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and the remaining tablespoon of rum, and toss to combine. Once the grill is very hot, grill the prawns three at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan, cooking them for 90 seconds on each side until they turn pink. Add the cooked prawns to the vanilla butter and turn to coat. Repeat with the remaining prawns.

Arrange the grilled prawns on a large platter, and spoon over the butter, vanilla pod, chillies and star anise. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the rice, stir the spring onions and coriander into the pickle, and serve both alongside the prawns.

Coffee mousse with tahini chocolate sauce

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for Valentine’s Day (2)

This really couldn’t be simpler, because everything goes in the mixing bowl at the same time . You can serve the mousse straight away, or keep it refrigerated for later. These quantities make enough for six portions, but the mousse keeps in the fridge for up to three days if you’re serving only two – some things are worth making a batch of, after all.

Prep 1o min
Cook 5-10 min
Makes 6

For the mousse
1½ tbsp instant coffee powder
(not granules)
1½ tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 egg whites
90ml maple syrup
280ml double cream
, chilled
50g roasted and salted mixed nuts, roughly chopped
5 amaretti biscuits (the hard variety), roughly chopped

For the tahini chocolate sauce
90g tahini, very well stirred
60ml maple syrup
1½ tsp soy sauce
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
¾ tsp vanilla bean paste
2¼ tbsp water

Put the first six mousse ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and, on a medium-high to high speed, whip to medium-soft peaks, which should take roughly two and a half to three minutes. (Alternatively, whisk by hand for five to 10 minutes, until the mix is the desired consistency.)

In a small bowl, whisk all the sauce ingredients until smooth.

Divide the mousse between six bowls, then drizzle over some of the chocolate sauce. Finish with a scattering of nuts and amaretti, and serve.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for Valentine’s Day (2024)


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