"We've become a little bit famous for what we do with vegetables," says the Israeli-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi.
Sami Tamimi, his Palestinian business partner, nods humbly, drink in hand. Together they've turned half the world on to kale salads and the transformative power of a well-placed dollop of yogurt.
Their latest cookbook release in the U.S.
Through their London restaurant, shops and best-selling books, they've become champions of a Middle Eastern approach to vegetables that's confidently modern, assertively spiced, pretty looking and always, always delicious.
In place of softball questions, we tossed vegetables. No, really; we actually threw produce at them. They gamely caught our lobs, and then riffed about how to make the most of your vegetables, Ottolenghi-style.
Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam: We love char-grilling because you get the most flavor left in the vegetable. Kohlrabi, sweet potato--put it on the grill and you've got smokiness and tons of flavor. We grill our beets.
On go-to vegetable companions
Yotam: It's almost always appropriate to use yogurt. It's almost always appropriate to use lemon juice.
Sami: Yogurt, tahini, nuts, lots of herbs--you want to play on the sweet and sour and salty.
Yotam: The trick is to come up with things that really let the vegetable come through. If you take a piece of steak, it doesn't need anything else. But with a vegetable you always have to give it that little kick.
Sami: But not to kill it, not to cover it with other flavors.