Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Nigel Slater’s baked winter roots with feta and smoked garlic

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A hearty salad of onion, swede and parsnip, roasted till slightly caramelised, with a smoky, salty dressing

The recipe

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Peel a couple of red onions, cut them in half and then into thick segments. Peel and thickly slice 600g of swede, then cut each slice into pieces roughly 4cm long. Do the same with a couple of parsnips.

Scrub 4 medium-sized carrots, then cut into thick pieces and mix with the segments of red onion, swede and parsnip in a large roasting tin. Tuck 6 bushy sprigs of thyme and a head of smoked garlic among the vegetables, then pour over 6 tbsp of olive oil. Roast for 25 minutes then turn the vegetables over in the roasting tin and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Remove the garlic from the roasting tin. Scatter 1 tsp of fennel seeds and another of yellow mustard seeds over the vegetables and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes until all is sizzling and the vegetables are knifepoint tender.

Squeeze the roasted smoked garlic flesh from its papery skin. Crush the garlic flesh to a paste with a pestle and mortar or using a spoon then crumble 100g feta into it. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven, then toss gently with the garlic and feta.

The trick

Watch the roasting vegetables’ progress, turning them from time to time. I think root vegetables are at the most delicious when they are given the chance to caramelise a little. Their inherent sweetness and the salty, smoky notes of the garlic and feta seasoning is what makes this dish.

The twist

If smoked garlic proves evasive, mash the roasted flesh of your usual garlic with a teaspoon of smoked sea salt instead. Salted ricotta is good here in place of the feta, crumbled into tiny pieces.

Email Nigel at nigel.slater@observer.co.uk or follow him on Twitter@NigelSlater

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