It’s great to be cooking on the weekends again! In a bout of cleaning and clearing the kitchen, my eyes set upon a half bottle of maple syrup that needed to be used up. I thought first of pancakes and waffles but then to sweet potatoes as I’d been wanting to try the combination of sweet and sweet to see if it would work as a savoury (do two sweets making a savoury? Nah…).

What came out of my experiment was this side dish, which we had with chicken last weekend. The sweet potato and the maple do go well together but there’s a bit of lime juice preventing everything from getting too saccharine. I do love pecan nuts so but you could also use walnuts.

Sweet Potato, Maple and Pecan Bake

This was the recipe I was making when I sliced a bit of the tip of my finger off with a mandoline. Pay attention when using these things, folks! They’re sharp and if you’re not paying attention (and I certainly wasn’t), it’s stupidly easy to slice off something unintentionally. In my case, there was just some bleeding and nothing that a plaster couldn’t sort out but it could have been much worse – mandolines are very useful but do take care!

Sweet Potato, Maple and Pecan Bake
serves 2-3 as a side dish.

2 sweet potatoes
salt and pepper
2.5 tbsps maple syrup
1 lime
a few handfuls of pecans

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Peel the sweet potatoes and then slice into thin rounds – I used a mandoline. Arrange in a suitable baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine the maple syrup, the juice of 1 lime and 3 tbsps of water and pour over the potato slices. Cover with foil and place in the oven.

After 45 minutes, take the baking dish out of the oven and peel off the foil. Chop the pecans roughly, scatter on top of the sweet potatoes and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Serve.

A few years back, there was a bit of excitement over roasted cauliflower and I jumped on that bandwagon. Actually, I can’t remember a time when I’d ever voluntarily eaten cauliflower before I discovered roasting it. It is so easy – break each head into florets, slice those florets, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until it’s all gone toasty brown. It’s delicious.

Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Vinaigrette

Then I stopped making it for a while and I can’t say why exactly; perhaps it was cauliflower fatigue. A few weeks ago, however, I saw this recipe over at the Amateur Gourmet, where he roasted an entire head of cauliflower, whole, and it’s glorious brownness ensured that the link was immediately bookmarked. The rest is quite simple – a lemon and caper vinaigrette is poured overtop. To save on roasting time, I cut my head of cauliflower up into smaller florets; it makes for easier serving too but I’d be game to try the impressive presentation for a special occasion. However, I laugh at their suggestion that it’s a recipe that will feed eight as the two of us cleaned the tray and could easily have eaten another tray’s worth too.

Sausages and Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Vinaigrette
modified from this recipe from Gourmet
serves 2 as a side dish.

1 large head of cauliflower
2 tbsps olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Vinaigrette
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers (the kind in brine is fine – rinse them)
black pepper and salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Separate the head of cauliflower into florets (I don’t like them too big) and toss into a roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and salt and stir to ensure that the florets are coated with oil. Place in the oven to roast for about 40-50 minutes, until the florets are tinged golden and brown.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and toss through with the roasted cauliflower florets. Serve alongside your main meal.

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