Monday, January 05, 2015

Sweet potatoes with orange bitters

December 25, 2014

We hosted a small Christmas gathering at our place this year - just us and a handful of family members picnicking in the park. Even with just a small group, we figured Christmas was the perfect excuse to delve further into Plenty More - Ottolenghi's recipes are Christmas staples around here, so we were excited to try a few new ones. 

We couldn't go past a couple of pretty classic Ottolenghi-style salads - a mango and curried chickpea salad (bottom of the picture above) and a parsley, lemon, cannellini bean and quinoa salad (top left). The quinoa salad was actually surprisingly straightforward for Ottolenghi - the usual array of shredded herbs (parsley and mint in this case, plus some coriander I threw in by mistake!), a bit of quinoa, some beans, lemon and a few spices - it's really simple and pretty effective. 

The curried chickpea salad took a bit more work, even with the shortcuts we used (tinned chickpeas and pre-ground spices rather than soaked chickpeas and roasting and grinding our own). You've got onion to fry, cauliflower to blanch and fry and a whole lot of mango to slice up. The pay-off is worth it though - this is an excellent mix of sweet mango, spicy curry flavours and some nice charred cauliflower chunks (plus plenty of greens for freshness). We'll definitely be making this again.

Our centrepiece though was the most time-consuming dish of the lot - roasted sweet potatoes with orange bitters (recipe below). It's actually not a lot of work, just lots of chopping and then an hour of roasting, with regular stops to stir things together. It's a phenomenally good dish - the glaze that you roast the potatoes in is a mix of sweet and bitter and it caramelises as it roasts, leaving the potatoes sticky and loaded with flavour. Throw in the infusion of deliciousness from the roasted garlic, sage and thyme and you've got a classic veggie dish that's destined to impress. The goats cheese in the recipe can be omitted without really diminishing the dish, so it's easily adapted for vegans.

We had a lovely Christmas lunch - a few nibblies, some wine, sunshine and these three dishes is a winning combination, especially when followed up with a batch of these cream cheese brownies that Cindy whipped up for us. We've made our way through a lot of Ottolenghi recipes over the years, but he keeps coming up with brilliant dishes and will remain a regular Christmas visitor at our place.

Sweet potatoes with orange bitters
(adapted very slightly from Ottolenghi's new book Plenty More)

350ml orange juice (the recipe calls for freshly squeezed, but we had some decent bottled juice that worked fine)
80g brown sugar
60ml red wine vinegar
60ml Agnostura bitters
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5kg of sweet potatoes, unpeeled (about 4)
2 red chillies, slit open longways
4 stems of sage
10 sprigs of thyme
2 heads garlic
100g goats cheese, broken into pieces
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Slice the sweet potato into wedges, about 3cm wide and 15cm long. 

Combine the orange juice, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and keep it at a low simmer for about 20 minutes - you want the liquid to have thickened up and reduced by about half. When it's done, take it off the heat and add in the olive oil, bitters and a teaspoon or two of salt.

Put the sweet potatoes in a large bowl, along with the garlic, chilli and herbs. Pour over the sauce and toss everything together so that it all gets well coated. Lay the mixture out in two lightly oiled baking trays - you want to try to get it all in a single layer, but it's not critical if things get a bit too crowded (see our pictures above).

Roast for an hour, taking the pans out every 15 minutes to shuffle the potatoes around and make sure they're coated in the liquid. Ours dried out by the 45 minute mark so we added an extra splash of orange juice to each pan. 

Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, dotted with the goats cheese and seasoned with salt and pepper.


  1. I really need to get into ottolenghi - love all the recipes I see you make but never quite get there myself - those roast veg look amazing

    1. Thanks Johanna! His recipes are gorgeous but gosh, they have long ingredient lists. They're for days when there's time to chop and boil and bake for hours.