This is such a great dish. It’s low-maintenance, super sexy, and can work as a side if you wish or has everything you need as a main course. It’s seasonal and substitutable with some things other than roots (like cauliflower or butternut/cup/acorn squash), and generally I don’t prefer Red Beets (they bleed too much) or Sweet Potato (too soft). We’ve also changed the nuts (pecans, hazelnuts) to seeds (pepitas or pine nuts) or even chick peas to add a great protein addition. Sometimes we do without the cheese and add preserved lemons or ginger instead. And the figs can be changed up to dried apricots or dried plums, even fresh apple wedges or chunks (Bon Appetit tells me that Jonagold, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Winesap hold up well in baking) – or even a mix of fruits. We generally cook it in a 9×13 stoneware baker but a sheetpan could work well, too (keep in mind a metal surface will generate a crisper caramelization rather than moist, personal preference). If you are feeling that you need even a little more heartiness, cooked farro/bulgur/wheat berries are a good match for the earthiness of this dish. As a side, it is a nice accompaniment to a whole roasted chicken or pork tenderloin. Which reminds me, I don’t nearly have enough roots yet.
Roasted Roots with Figs, Goat Cheese, & Almonds
- A mess of roots: Carrots of any color, Golden Beets, Parsnips, Rutabaga, Turnips, scrubbed and chopped into 2″ chunks
- 1 Large Red Onion (or a handful of Shallots, Pearl Onions, or a Vidalia), chopped
- 3-5 Medium Whole Garlic Cloves (if only big, chop in half), peeled
- 1 cup of Dried Figs, halved
- 1/2 cup whole Almonds (whether roasted, toasted, or raw – your preference, keep in mind, the oven will toast them up a little more)
- a few sprigs of Fresh Sage (or Rosemary or Thyme)
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- 4-6 oz Goat Cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all veg/fruit/nuts in your baking pan, toss with Olive Oil, Sea Salt, & Black Pepper. Bury the herb sprigs in the mix. Bake until hardest veg are tender and browning nicely (35-45 min). Remove from heat, give a good stir, and dollop (who doesn’t love that word) Goat Cheese across the top. Serve with hearty cooked grain and/or roasted meat, if desired. Stands great on its own, too.