Aug 30, 2023

Spicy mussels, pulao and brulee: Yotam Ottolenghi’s bank holiday meal

Tins and the frozen food aisle make this feast a thrifty triumph: spicy mussels with coriander seeds, jackfruit and green bean pulao, and a make-ahead mango brulee

Bank holiday weekends are a great time to have buddies over for a meal. Sunday night feels like Saturday night, and Monday often feels like a free day. What isn’t free, of course, is the meal itself, but there are lots of ways to keep down costs while still feasting. The freezer aisle is a great place to start – those packets of frozen cooked fish and frozen vegetables will go a long way – before heading for the shelves stacked with tins. Tinned tropical fruit works particularly well, with its intense sweetness ready and waiting to be used in all sorts of ways.

The cooked frozen mussels make this a really quick and easy dish; it also works just as well with frozen prawns or clams. It makes a lovely starter, and is great for dipping crusty bread into. Make it a day ahead, if you like, and store in a sterilised jar in the fridge, because the mussels become even more flavourful overnight.

Prep 10 minCook 15 minServes 6

150ml olive oil 2 tsp chilli flakes Zest of 1 lemon, in strips 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika 1 tbsp tomato paste Salt and black pepper 400g cooked and shelled frozen mussels, defrosted and patted dry 1 tomato (90g), coarsely grated (discard the skin)¾ tsp coriander seeds 10g picked parsley, finely chopped (optional) 1 loaf crusty bread, to serve

First, make the spicy oil. Put the first five ingredients in a medium frying pan on a medium-low heat, add a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the mussels, cook for another three to five minutes, until they’re warmed through, then stir in the tomato, and scatter the coriander seeds and parsley, if using, on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with crusty bread.

Pulao is a dish that often marks big celebrations such as weddings and birthdays in parts of the Middle East and Asia. It’s similar to biryani in that it can be made with fish, meat or vegetables, but it uses fewer spices and isn’t accompanied by a saucy gravy. We’ve used curry powder, but feel free to swap it for any spice mix that you have to hand.

Prep 30 minSoak 1 hr Cook 1 hrServes 6

2 x 560g tins young jackfruit in brine, drained and chopped into 3cm pieces – we use Tropical Sun75ml olive oil Salt and black pepper3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced (540g)3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced 20g hot madras curry powder 230g frozen green beans, defrosted and cut into 3cm lengths 250g basmati rice, washed until the water runs clear, then soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour 1 lemon, zest peeled off in wide strips, then finely sliced, the remaining fruit cut in half15g flaked almonds, toasted (optional)

For the cucumber yoghurt15g picked dill, finely chopped½ cucumber (190g), peeled, deseeded and chopped into ½cm pieces250g plain yoghurt2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Heat the oven to its highest setting – 250C (230C fan)/490F/gas 9+. Put the jackfruit on a lined oven tray, add a tablespoon of olive oil and a half-teaspoon of salt, and toss to coat. Roast for 25 minutes, until lightly browned, remove and set aside, then turn down the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9.

Put the remaining 60ml oil in a large cast-iron pan for which you have a lid, and set it over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and half a teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in the curry powder, cook for a minute, then add the roast jackfruit and 150ml water. Mix well, cook for eight to 10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed, then add the green beans.

Drain the rice well, then stir it into the pan with the finely sliced lemon peel, 420ml boiling water and another half-teaspoon of salt. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper, top that with the lid, then bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes. Remove and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

To make the cucumber yoghurt, put a teaspoon of the chopped dill in a medium bowl with the cucumber, yoghurt, garlic, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, mix well and set aside.

Just before serving, uncover the rice, discard the paper and, using two forks, gently fluff it up. Mix in the remaining dill, scatter the almonds, if using, on top and serve warm with the yoghurt on the side.

This great make-ahead dessert requires very little hands-on time. If you like, serve it with slices of fresh mango or swap the lime for passion fruit.

Prep 15 minCook 30 minCool 2-3 hrServes 6

1 x 450g tin sweetened alphonso mango pulp – we use East End450g Greek yoghurt1 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)3 eggs95g caster sugar⅛ tsp flaked salt1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put the mango, yoghurt, vanilla (if using), eggs, 45g sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk gently to combine, taking care not to create any air bubbles. Pass the mix through a fine sieve, then divide equally between six ramekins.

Put the ramekins in a high-sided oven tray and carefully pour enough boiling water into the trayto come halfway up the ramekins’ sides. Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, until the custard is set, but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then lift the ramekins out of the tray and put them in the fridge for an hour and a half to two hours (or overnight), until completely cold and set.

Evenly spoon one and a quarter teaspoons of sugar on top of each ramekin, then put them under a very hot grill for two to three minutes, until the sugar melts and caramelises (alternatively, use a blowtorch). Set aside for a minute, so the sugar hardens, then serve each one with a wedge of lime for squeezing over.

10 min15 min6150ml olive oil 2 tsp chilli flakes Zest of 1 lemon1 tsp sweet smoked paprika 1 tbsp tomato paste Salt and black pepper400g cooked and shelled frozen mussels1 tomato¾ tsp coriander seeds10g picked parsley1 loaf crusty bread, 30 min1 hr1 hr62 x 560g tins young jackfruit in brine75ml olive oil Salt and black pepper3 onions3 garlic cloves20g hot madras curry powder 230g frozen green beans250g basmati rice1 lemon15g flaked almonds15g picked dill½ cucumber250g plain yoghurt2 garlic cloves15 min30 min2-3 hr61 x 450g tin sweetened alphonso mango pulp450g Greek yoghurt1 tsp vanilla bean paste3 eggs95g caster sugar⅛ tsp flaked salt1 lime