Recipe taken from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press).
‘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 slightly 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 flavours. To save you from making it you can look out for products such as balsamic cream or glaze.’
- 4 small sweet potatoes (1 kg in total)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 40ml balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)
- 20g caster sugar
- 12 spring onions, halved lengthways and cut into 4cm segments
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
- 6 fresh and ripe figs (240g in total), quartered
- 150g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Maldon sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C Fan/Gas Mark 9.
Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into three long wedges. Mix with three tablespoons of the olive oil, two teaspoons of salt and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
To make a balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2–4 minutes, or 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 and add the spring onions and chilli. Fry on a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature with the cheese crumbled over, if using.