Chicory boats and posh pigs in blankets: Yotam Ottolenghi’s party food recipes

  Reading time 7 minutes

It’s party season, which, paradoxically, is when everyone shares their “rules”! Contradiction or otherwise, here are mine: 1. When it comes to party food, embrace the classics. 2. Serve food that can be eaten by hand or put in a vessel that can itself be eaten – washing-up, done! 3. If in doubt, bejewel your food: this is the season pomegranate seeds were made for. 4. Take shortcuts where you can (extracting those pomegranate seeds is not for everyone, after all). 5. Dial up the salty-savoury ingredients – your mulled-wine-drinking guests will thank you. 6. Last, and most crucially, never, ever underestimate the enduring power of a sausage wrapped up in bacon.

Chicory boats with feta, walnut and pomegranate (pictured top)

The filling can be made two or three hours before assembly, if you want to get ahead. Another option is to serve the filling by itself, as a dip, or spoon it into pre-cooked pastry cases (whisper it: vol-au-vents).

Prep 20 minCook 15 minAssembly 10 minServes 15

165g walnuts1 tbsp maple syrup ½ tsp olive oilFlaked sea salt and black pepper15g coriander leaves15g dill leaves15g mint leaves 6 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped (125g)100g feta, crumbled165g cream cheese100g cucumber, grated and liquid squeezed out130g pomegranate seeds (ie, from about 1 pomegranate) 4 heads red and white baby chicory, leaves separated

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Mix 65g walnuts in a small bowl with the maple syrup, olive oil and a teaspoon of flaked sea salt, then arrange in a single layer on a lined oven tray and bake for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes, until deeply golden and sticky. Remove, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then roughly chop.

Put the remaining 100g walnuts in a food processor with all the herbs and spring onions, and pulse until roughly chopped. Tip into a large bowl, add the feta, cream cheese, cucumber, three-quarters of a teaspoon of flaked sea salt and a good grind of pepper, and mix well. Stir in 120g of the pomegranate seeds.

To assemble, divide the filling between the chicory leaves – you’ll need a teaspoon or two of the mix on each leaf – then arrange artfully on a platter. Scatter the chopped walnuts and remaining pomegranate seeds on top, and serve.

Sticky pomegranate and pistachio pigs in blankets

For a quick short cut, use chipolatas ready-wrapped in bacon.

Prep 10 minCook 45 minServes 12-15

24 pork chipolatas, each twisted in the middle, then cut in half, to make 2 smaller sausages24 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut in half widthways20g pistachios1 tbsp parsley leaves, finely chopped1 tbsp dill leaves, finely chopped80ml maple syrup70ml pomegranate molasses¼ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp urfa chilli flakes, or ¼ tsp regular chilli flakes

Heat the oven to 195C (175C fan)/385F/gas 5½. Wrap a piece of bacon around each half-chipolata and put on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Put the pistachios on a second, smaller tray, then put both trays in the oven. After 10 minutes, when the pistachios are lightly toasted, remove them and set aside to cool, but leave the chipolatas in the oven for a further 20 minutes, until golden. Once the nuts are cool, chop them roughly, mix with the herbs and set aside.

Meanwhile, put the maple syrup, pomegranate molasses and cinnamon in a small pan. Bring to a boil, cook for a minute or two, then pour into a large bowl and leave to cool and thicken for 10 minutes.

Once the chipolatas are cooked, put them in the molasses bowl, leaving any fat behind on the tray. Mix gently to coat the sausages in the molasses mix, then arrange in a pile on a serving plate. Drizzle over any remaining molasses, scatter the pistachio herb mixture on top and serve sprinkled with chilli flakes.

Mackerel paté with curried onions and lemon

If you want to get ahead, make the onion butter and paté the day before; bring both to room temperature before serving.

Prep 25 minCook 35 minServes 10

For the curried onion butter2 large onions (400g), peeled and finely chopped2 tbsp olive oil 200g unsalted butter 4 tsp hot madras curry powder Salt and black pepper

For the paté4 hot smoked peppered mackerel fillets (340g), skinned120g creme fraiche2½ tsp creamed horseradish (shop-bought is fine)1¼ tsp cracked black pepper4 spring onions (80g), thinly sliced; keep 15g sliced greens separate1 large lemon, zest grated, to get 1½ tsp, and juiced, to get 1½ tsp10 x 2cm-thick slices of sourdough, toasted and cut in half at an angle

For the lemon topping 1 red chilli (20g), cut into thin rounds 1 large lemon, peeled, pith, seeds and membranes removed and discarded, flesh finely chopped1½ tsp olive oil

First, make the curried onion butter. Put the onions, oil, butter, curry powder and a half-teaspoon of salt in a small saute pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes, until soft and translucent. Leave to cool for five minutes, then put in a bowl and chill for 10-15 minutes, until the onion mix semi-solidifies.

Meanwhile, put the mackerel in a medium bowl with the creme fraiche, horseradish, cracked pepper, spring onions, lemon zest and juice, and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix until just combined – you want some of the fish in chunky pieces – then cover with a plate (or chill, if serving the next day).

Now for the topping: mix the chilli, chopped lemon flesh, olive oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.

To assemble, divide the onion butter between the toasts, spreading it on thinly. Spoon mounds of the paté on top, scatter over the reserved spring onion greens, spoon on the chilli and lemon mix, and serve.

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