the middle east has mastered cuisine in a way unparalleled by any other region. most dishes are extremely healthy, consisting of seasonal produce, fresh meat, local cheese, or a combination of the three. middle eastern flavors are vibrant, diverse, and loaded with character. no offense to france, but i would much rather go on a food-based tour through jerusalem and tel aviv than lyon and paris.
speaking of jerusalem! this recipe comes from the jerusalem cookbook. the book is a masterpiece compilation of recipes and commentary, accented with gorgeous shots of israeli markets.
this dish is best when fresh figs are in season. given that it’s february, i don’t think they’ll even be in stores right now, so omit them and replace with slices of pear or orange. this is good to make if you have a vegetarian friend coming to your dinner party. it would also be a great accompaniment to lamb kebobs.
- 4 small sweet potatoes
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into segments
- 1 red chile, thinly sliced
- 6 ripe figs, quartered
- 5 oz goat cheese
- salt and pepper
preheat the oven to 475º. wash the sweet potatoes and halved them lengthwise. cut them in half again into 3 long wedges. mix with 3 tbsp of the olive oil, 2 tsp salt, and some pepper. spread the wedges out, skin side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. cook for 25 minutes. let cool.
for the balsamic reduction, bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until thickened. remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey (it will continue to thicken as it cools).
to serve, arrange the sweet potatoes on a large platter. heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the green onions and chile for 4 minutes. spoon the oil, onions, and chile over the potatoes. dot with figs and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. crumble on the goat cheese. serve at room temperature.