Ah another sweet potato recipe you say? But how can you resist when it’s such a brilliant and versatile vegetable? The following is a recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s masterpiece, Jerusalem. It mixes the eastern flavours of shallot/chilli with the sweetness of a western balsamic reduction. Although I don’t know why I was so surprised at this pairing, since the Chinese Black vinegar (Zhengjiang) is very alike to your supermarket Balsamic, so alike that in my household they’re interchangeable for dumpling sauces.
I chose to forgo actually making the Balsamic reduction in the original recipe, instead I cheated a little and used the 12 year old aged Balsamic I bought at an exorbitant price in Bologna last year. I didn’t even know that supermarket Balsamic wasn’t really real Balsamic until Anthony Bourdain told me. But in the end the difference is night and day, the aged Balsamic is more akin to Caramelised Balsamic except without the cloying sweetness and with a deeper richer flavour. My only regret was that I didn’t have the suitcase space or the money to bring more bottles back to Australia.
Roast Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs
3-4 sweet potatoes (around 1kg in total) 5 tablespoon olive oil
6 stalks of Asian shallot (scallion/spring onion)
1 red chilli
6 fresh ripe figs
1 handful pinenuts (toasted)
Aged Balsamic (or Caramelised Balsamic/Balsamic glaze)
Salt & Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 240C/220F.
Wash the sweet potatoes and cut into long wedges. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt & pepper to taste. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast until soft but not mushy (Around 25min). Once done take them out of the oven and leave to cool.
Slice the shallots lengthways, and finely slice the chilli. In a pan heat the reminder of the oil on medium heat, fry the shallot and chilli for around 5min or until fragrant.
On a platter or each plate, arrange the sweet potatoes, spoon over the shallot, chilli & oil. Tear the figs into rough quarters and dot amongst the wedges, drizzle over with balsamic and sprinkle with pinenuts.
You can also crumble over some soft goat’s cheese as well, but I find the punch of the chilli and shallot provides enough flavour without a strong cheese.