Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Za’atar is a spice blend used in Middle Eastern cooking consisting of sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds and salt. In this recipe it lends a slight lemony flavor to, and enhances the earthy scent of, some lovely sweet potatoes.

Sumac Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. za’atar
  • 1 tsp. ground sumac

Directions:

  1. Place oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and dice into 1″ cubes.
  3. Toss sweet potatoes with the olive oil and spices. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread into a single layer.
  4. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing the potatoes and redistributing into a single layer half way through cooking.
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Roasted Winter Root Vegetables

This side dish makes a hearty accompaniment for roasted or braise meat. The cumin and cinnamon echo the earthiness of the root vegetables and the high temperature cooking helps bring out their natural sweetness.

You could also use it as part of a chicken pot pie or even the start of a tasty soup.

Roasted Winter Root Vegetables
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: less than 5 minutes (plus oven preheat time)
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 lb. turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Arrange oven racks so one is in an upper-middle position and the other is in a lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to coat vegetables with oil and spices.
  3. Place the baking sheets in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes. The veggies are done with they are easily pierced with a table fork. Transfer vegetables to a warmed service bowl and serve.
  4. If prepping for later use transfer baking sheets to cooling racks and rest for ~30 minutes. Transfer roasted vegetables to a seal-able container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Note:
Any combination of root vegetables will work for this. In addition turnip and sweet potatoes used above there are many varieties of winter squash. Carrots, parsnips and rutabagas also make great choices.

Vegetable Soup

Cooler weather lends itself to warm soup. Below is a basic vegetable soup recipe that I’ve turned to over the years. It is easy to extend with additional vegetables and while it is vegetarian there’s no reason it can’t become the base for some meated creation.

Vegetable Soup
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper
  • 1 lb. carrots, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 bunch celery hearts, 1/4″ dice
  • 1.5 lbs. red onions, 1/4″ dice
  • 5 qt. vegetable broth
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 16 oz. box bow tie pasta

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potato cubes, 1 Tbsp. oil, a healthy pinch of salt & 1/2 tsp. black pepper together until sweet potatoes are evenly covered with oil and seasonings. Spread on a rimmed baking pan and bake until just tender (~30 minutes). Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot saute the carrots, celery and onion in the remaining oil until the onions become translucent. Add the broth and water; bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook for ~30 minutes.
  3. About 20 minutes before eating turn the heat back up to high. Once at a boil add the pasta and cook per the instructions on the box. When the pasta is done to your likeness add the added the roasted sweet potatoes to the soup. Reheat potatoes if necessary and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes:
We had some vegetable broth in the freezer so I used that for this recipe. That said I often use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base. Just add a tablespoon of the concentrate to a quart of hot water and you’re ready to roll.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with onions and thyme

In a large bowl combine

  • 3 # sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8″ thick & halved
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced & halved
  • 4-5 stems of dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Evenly spread the vegetables over the pan. Roast at 450°F for 10-15 minutes and then continue cooking at 300°F for approx 45 minutes.