Yotam Ottolenghi’s formula for easy, delicious dishes – The Denver Post

By Yotam Ottolenghi, The New York Times

LONDON — I often think of recipes as being like stories.

They’re both collections of steps or phrases that need putting together to make whole. And they’re both so much more than the sum of their parts.

Recipes, like stories, also say so much about the time, place and person they’re from. In coming to life, something is revealed, remembered. Once shared, recipes, like stories, pass from one person to the next, changing and evolving in the process. The core, however, remains the same.

If that’s an overly poetic way of looking at recipes, there is another — and far more prosaic — way I look at them: as formulas, sums that need to be in balance. There are many reasons my friend and occasional Times contributor Samin Nosrat’s “Salt Fat Acid Heat” was such a huge success, but one was her ability to distill everything a dish needs to taste good into just four words. If we want balanced deliciousness, she showed us, we need salt + fat + acid + heat. So simple. So genius.

For the past 18 months or so, my home cooking has similarly followed a sort of formula. It looks like this: Something fresh, bought locally that day + a flavor bomb from the pantry + whatever else needs eating in the fridge = breakfast, lunch or supper.

The first part of that equation could be anything that takes your fancy. These are the things you treat yourself to: some beautiful eggs, maybe, or a piece of fresh fish, a couple of frameworthy heirloom tomatoes or an artichoke that looks so much like a flower you would happily put it in a vase. If we are melding our formula and story analogies, this is protagonist on the journey.