More than five years ago, if you’d told me that a plant-based lifestyle would make my family more mindful – I would have starred back at you blankly. But noticing the seasons and being aware of what’s growing (as well as what’s not) has become an important part of our lives – and we love it. Before I paid attention I would have told you that spring and summer at the best growing seasons, but now I’ve come to appreciate that Autumn is also full abundance. As we enter mid-autumn I look forward to Roasted Kūmara, Fig & Chilli with anticipation.
Having chosen to live outside of a “large” city (Wellington NZ, population 350,000) we enjoy having enough backyard space to grow a significant amount of our own food. And it means we get to feel even closer to nature. With autumn well underway, the last figs are ripe on the trees, our jalapeños have been harvested. Last weekend we dug up the Kūmara (sweet potato).
The idea of pairing roasted kūmara, fig & chilli might be new to you. However, when I was introduced to it in Scotland as a chef, I soon discovered that it’s an extremely popular sharing dish. Like any dish you come to depend on, it’s nice to add your touches. In my case I found, a foraged walnut salsa balances out this mostly sweet combination, and adding a handful of greens creates a tasty Autumn supper.
Start out making it my way, and once you’ve tried it, think about where you’d like to take it. I’d love to hear what you do with it.
This dish can be served warm out, from the oven, but leftovers make a delicious packed lunch.
Roasted Kūmara, Fig & Chilli with Walnut Salsa
Serves 4 -6
- 800g orange kūmara ( sweet potato )
- 8 – 12 fresh figs
- 2 -4 mild red chillies such as jalapeño, finely sliced
- 30 – 45ml olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 – 2 cups red vein sorrel or rocket (arugula)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup packed with fresh parsley
- 1 clove garlic-crushed
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Wash and peel the kūmara. Halve them lengthways, depending on size, slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges. Put the wedges in a bowl.
Pour the olive oil over the kūmara wedges and toss to coat.
Spread the wedges on a lined baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with jalapeño slices.
Trim the stems off the figs, cut through the tops to the base to create a cross shape, open the figs into star shapes and drizzle the left over oil mixture from the bowl.
Cook the kūmara wedges for 15 minutes, then add the figs to the baking tray and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
The walnut salsa can be chunky or smooth, combine ingredients in a small food processor and blend of use a mortar and pestle to grind to the desired consistency. Season to taste.
The walnut salsa can be made ahead of time or prepared while the kūmara and figs are roasting.
This dish can be plated individually or as a sharing platter, scatter greens over the plate, layer with roasted kūmara, arrange the figs, scatter the jalapeño and drizzle with walnut salsa.
This dish could also be served with a plant-based pesto or a flavoured mayo.
Allergy friendly option – for a nut free salsa you could use a sunflower or pumpkin seeds in place of walnuts.