Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's cookbooks are all the rage these days, and with good cause. There is even a Facebook page devoted to "cooking the book" Jerusalem. I've had Plenty and Jerusalem since each was published here and both are filled with wonderful recipes and photos that leap into your kitchen and make you want to eat everything in them. Now, their first book, called simply, Ottolenghi, has just been released in this country with American style measurements. I received my copy yesterday!
This beet puree of Ottolenghi's is surprisingly wonderful and easy to make. I found it in his cookbook, Jerusalem, but this version is his submission to Food & Wine magazine. There are a few differences between the two versions. The main one, though, is that in the book, Ottolenghi calls for date syrup while in the magazine he substitutes in the same amount of maple syrup. Maple syrup is widely available and most people keep it handy so I suspect this is a change that he felt would make the recipe more accessible, but really, if you have sourced za'atar, it's possible that you've been in a store that also carries date syrup. I've also read online that people have substituted pomegranate molasses.
A second difference is in the method of cooking the beets. I'm really not sure why he's changed this out as either method works just fine.
I skipped the goat cheese and just garnished with the hazelnuts and scallions. Pistachios would also be delicious.
And for any interested locals, Ottolenghi and Tamimi will be speaking with Joan Nathan as moderator, at the 6th and I Synagogue in October. Just check the Politics and Prose schedule for details!