This year it is a long cold start to Summer. As I write, I sit here in a jumper in January, thinking of putting a rug over my legs rather than turn the heater on. So, needing something to warm the kitchen, I popped some roast veg in the oven.
Not any roast vegetables – this is an Ottolenghi dish, one that takes a common dish and makes it extraordinary. It is a favourite, and I don’t know why I haven’t posted it before. My note in the cookbook is “Magnificent” pencilled in the margin.
It takes sweet potatoes and parsnips and roasts them with garlic and (later) some cherry tomatoes, before dressing them with a tangy vinaigrette that is both sweet and sour, full of capers for a saltiness. It’s the perfect dish for any festival, celebration, Sunday lunch or any day of the week is born.
Ottolenghi says “The addition of a vinaigrette to freshly roasted vegetables gives them a freshness and juiciness they don’t normally have; the acidity brings out new shades of flavour, too.”
Try some Parsnip recipes too: Roughly Mashed Parsnip with Parmesan and Olive Oil, and Parsnip and Carrot Mash.
Take some time to explore the Ottolenghi recipes we have tried. Our Sweet Potato recipes are here and our Parsnip recipes here. Or browse our Mid Summer collection of easy recipes. (You might prefer our Mid Winter recipes!)
Roasted Parsnips and sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette
2 red onions
90ml or so of good olive oil
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
Salt and black pepper
2 sweet potatoes (around 600g)
25 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbspn white-wine vinegar or 2 tblspn lemon juice
2 tbspn capers
1 tspn mustard
1 tbspn toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180C – a little higher if it is not fan forced. Peel the parsnips and cut them into two or three segments, depending on their lengths.
Top and tail the onions, peel them and cut each into six wedges.
Place the parsnips and onions in a large mixing bowl and add 60ml or so of olive oil, the thyme, rosemary, garlic, a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Mix and spread out on a large roasting tin. Roast for 30 minutes.
While the parsnips are cooking, top and tail the sweet potatoes. Cut them (with their skins on if the skins are not blemished) into two length-wise and then cut each half into three or four pieces. Add the sweet potatoes to the tray with the parsnips and onions, stir and return to the oven for another 40-50 minutes.
Once all the vegetables are cooked through and golden brown, stir in the halved tomatoes and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Whisk together the vinegar or lemon juice, capers, mustard, 30ml of oil and half a teaspoon of salt, and pour over the roasting vegetables the moment they come out of the oven. Stir, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Scatter the sesame seeds over the top and serve straight from the tin.
recipe notes and alternatives
Ottolenghi cuts the sweet potato and parsnips lengthwise after cutting into chunks. If you want to do this – for the parsnips, cut each piece lengthways into two or four – you want pieces that are roughly 5cm long and 1.5cm wide. For the sweet potatoes – cut each sweet potato width-wise and then cut each half into six wedges.
The dressing can easily take a sweet note, if you prefer – Add 0.5 Tblspn honey, maple syrup or barley syrup to the dressing for the roasted vegetables. You can omit the capers if you like. I really like the barley syrup – it is not too sweet and adds a depth of flavour.
The combinations for this dish are endless – try adding white yam or salsify, or celeriac and beetroot.
Add some caperberries with the capers.
Scatter the roasted vegetables with some fresh herbs, such as basil, majoram or oregano, chopped at the last moment. And my favourite – a little finely grated lemon rind to take it even further.