An Unusual Pairing: Sweet Potato and Fig Casserole
This unusual combination of fresh fruit and roasted vegetables is one of the most popular at Ottolenghi. It wholly depends, though, on the figs being sweet, moist, and perfectly ripe. Go for plump fruit with an irregular shape and a slighty split bottom. Pressing against the skin should result in some resistance but not much. Try to smell the sweetness. The balsamic reduction is very effective here, both for the look and for rounding up the flavors. To save you from making it, you can look for products such as balsamic cream or glaze.
4 small sweet potatoes (2 1/4 lb / 1 kg in total)5 tbsp olive oilscant 3 tbsp / 40 ml balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)1 1/2 tbsp / 20 g superfine sugar12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-in / 4cm segments1 red chile, thinly sliced6 ripe figs (8 1/2 oz / 240 g in total), quartered5 oz / 150 g soft goat's milk cheese (optional)Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 475°F / 240°C.
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.
To make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
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.
Source: Posted in The Best Thing I Ate This Month, tagged sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes and figs, Yoram Ottolenghi April 30, 2015.