If I didn’t convince you to run out and buy a bottle of Balsamic Glaze for last week’s simple End-of-Summer Fruit Flatbreads, then maybe this week’s recipe for roasted sweet potatoes will be the final push needed to add it to your cart. The syrupy reduction of balsamic vinegar and either sugar or honey completes this dish or for that matter, any dish that could benefit from a sweet/tangy flavor contrast. If you choose not to buy the finished product, you can find various recipes which entail reducing the mixture by half.
I made Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs to bring to a friend’s home for Rosh Hashanah dinner. I wanted to make something that would be sweet (to signify a “sweet new year”) but with a twist. When I landed upon this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem, it was more the reviews that convinced me give it a try rather than the list of ingredients. What I quickly realized was that the recipe was deceptively simple and the combination of sweet, tart, spicy and creamy (if that can be considered a flavor) resulted in a complex dish where every bite was an adventure.
I should have never doubted that this recipe would be spectacular because Ottolenghi is just that. If you’re not familiar with him or his gorgeous cookbooks, specifically Plenty and Jerusalem, you should take a look. Both are more like coffee table books rather than your standard cookbooks and are filled with vibrant food photography paired with outstanding recipes.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs is perfect for a dinner party. The fact that the dish is supposed to be served at room temperature makes it just right for a potluck buffet. The simplicity of the cooking instructions means it’s easy enough to serve on a weeknight. And if you have children with sensitive palates, omit the hot peppers or serve them on the side, and it will be a winner in their eyes, as well. Enjoy!
- 4 small sweet potatoes (2 1/4 lb)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-in segments
- 1 red chile, thinly sliced
- 6 ripe figs (8 1/2 oz in total), quartered
- 5 oz soft goat's milk cheese (optional)
- balsamic glaze, cream or reduction
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 475F.
- Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and then cut each half again similarly into 3 long wedges. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out, skin side down, on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
- Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the green onions and chile. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often to make sure not to burn the chile. Spoon the oil, onions, and chile over the sweet potatoes. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature. Crumble the cheese over the top, if using.