Cookbook road test: 30 ingredients

Sally Clarke’s new cookbook, 30 Ingredients, (very) aptly highlights her favourite ingredients and the recipes she enjoys them in.

It’s a heavy, sturdy book, with a classic cover, reminiscent of days long gone. No glitzy food and no photo of the author adorn the cover, rather it’s simple, selective and straight-to-the-point – much like the recipes inside.

Cookbook road test: 30 ingredients

Sally Clarke is the owner and head chef of Clarke’s restaurant in Notting Hill, which has been open since 1984. It serves up fresh, seasonal food and Sally’s new cookbook holds to that tradition.

With ingredients from A to T (apricot to tomato), the book is a produce junkie’s dream come true. The recipe selection is heavily vegetarian, but with most of the dishes containing gorgeous, fresh produce as the star — you won’t miss the meat.

The 30 chapters are broken down by ingredient and each chapter has three to six recipes. Each ingredient is introduced at the beginning of the chapter including tips for choosing the item, prepping it and even little memories associated with the ingredient – like the time Sally cooked Alice Waters of Chez Panisse a special menu featuring cobnuts. My invite must still be lost in the post.

The photographs are stunning in their simplicity. No over-styling nonsense that leaves you wondering why anyone is eating at a table with methodically placed tea towels and herbs strewn about. Nope. It’s more honest. It’s what I wish more cookbooks could be like.

Clearly my next decision was going to be a tough one – which recipe do I make? I went with the squash and pumpkin chapter and settled on the iron bark pumpkin, rosemary and pumpkin seed focaccia recipe.

The recipe was no-fuss and straightforward as most focaccia recipes tend to be. The hardest part was locating an iron bark pumpkin and even that proved to be pretty darn easy.

Not sure what an iron bark pumpkin is? See a photo of it below. I found the grey-coloured squash at my local farmers market in south-west London.

This recipe is a perfect weekend activity — it takes long enough that you can’t make it on a weeknight, but it’s quick enough that it won’t eat your whole day. Sally suggests serving the focaccia with olive oil or split in two, stuffed with buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil. I chose the former (in ample amounts) and it did not disappoint. How could salty, chewy focaccia ever disappoint? Add some pumpkin to the mix and you’ve got autumnal bread bliss.

Here it is…

Get the recipe for iron bark pumpkin, rosemary and pumpkin seed focaccia.

Recipe by Sally Clarke: 30 Ingredients by Sally Clarke, Frances Lincoln, 10 September

Main image credit: Tessa Traeger

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