Last week, I was filming with Natasha MacAller at Rye Studios. Our shared passion for spices brought us together (an introduction by Spice Kitchen, but in fact we have the same publisher). There’s something so zappingly zen about Rye, it just keeps pulling me back! Natasha and I were chatting while filming together how most people we meet in the food industry are so happy to collaborate and share ideas and recipes, which makes ‘work’ so much more fun and interesting – the people we get to meet and the friends we make along the way.
Natasha’s book Spice Health Heroes focuses on the benefits of the spices called ‘health heroes’, each spice worthy to be a health hero, each with a whole host of benefits as well as a unique flavour and aroma, bringing any dish to life!
So here’s the first recipe, which is entirely from her book, Sweet Potato Agrodolce, her ‘homage to Fall’ as she says! It’s light, easy to make, yet so full of flavour and colour. I’ll also be adding the poached pear recipe collaboration, served with Saffron Shrikhand from my cookbook Saffron Soul – you can still watch my facebook live!
Sweet Potato Agrodolce
Agrodolce is a traditional Italian sweet-and-sour sauce. This version, served with sweet potatoes, is packed with brain-food-anthocyanin-loaded cherries (well, we have used cranberries in this version!) and spices and finished with a generous handful of the familiar, fragrant, antioxidant-rich basil leaf.
3 tbsp dried cranberries, roughly chopped
350g (12oz.) red sweet potatoes, kumara or yams, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in.) pieces
3 tbsp pumpkin seed, extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
60ml (¼ cup) balsamic or orange vincotto vinegar
2 jalapeño chilies, seeded and thinly sliced in rings
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp honey
2 medium-sized red onions (about 450g/1lb.), thinly sliced
2 rosemary sprigs
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
20g (¾oz./¾ cup tightly packed) fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnishing, torn
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Put the dried cherries into a small bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soften for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the cumin and some salt, then spread out evenly on a baking tray. Roast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and fork tender, 17–20 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave on the tray and set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix the drained cherries with the vinegar, jalapeños, turmeric and honey and season with salt. Cook, stirring, until the sauce reduces to a thin syrup, about 5 minutes.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium–high heat. Add the onions, rosemary and thyme and sauté until golden brown. Add the garlic, cook for about 3 minutes more, then add the cherry mix and reduce.
Gently fold in the sweet potatoes. Add the basil then gently toss again. Spoon onto a platter or individual serving plates. Garnish with extra torn basil leaves and serve immediately.
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