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Monday, October 12, 2015

Sweet Potato, Green Beans, and Balsamic Fig Reduction Sauce

You wouldn’t know it by the weather, but the seasons are starting to turn. I’ve seen migratory birds and felt my own compunction to eat root vegetables. Thankfully, the last fruit of summer, my darling figs, are here to keep me in a summer-time frame of mind.

½ sweet potato
Small handful of green beans
Balsamic Fig Reduction Sauce (as much as suits you)
Several blops of creamy faux cheese (as much like goat’s cheese or feta as you can find)
Balsamic Fig Reduction Sauce (recipe below)
Sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
Chopped nuts (I like almonds, but pecans would be particularly yummy)
  1. Slice the sweet potato into 1-inch chunks. They don’t have to be neat and tidy. I like the skins, but you’ll be mashing these, so if you like them smoother, peel them first.
  2. Trim the green beans’ ends, but leave them long. You could cut them up to bite-sized if you wanted to, but I leave them long for the sake of presentation.
  3. In a steamer basket inside a larger pan with a little water in the bottom, place the green beans on one side and the sweet potato on the other. You don’t have to keep them separate, but I like to, for the sake of mashing the sweet potatoes. Steam the veggies until the sweet potatoes are tender to the touch of a fork. You may want to remove the green beans sooner, if you like them squeaky.
  4. In a small bowl, mash away at the soft sweet potatoes. I use a fork, but if you want it smoother, you might want a potato masher or even a ricer.
  5. Place the mashed sweet potato in the center of your serving dish. Array the green beans around it and put a blop of cheese in the center. You could do your own thing too, or just toss everything into the mashing bowl. It will still be yummy!
  6. Drizzle the balsamic fig sauce appealingly around your plate. I was feeling like concentric circles when I took this picture, but you could do something a little more wild.
  7. Sprinkle the darling little thyme leaves over the top (especially over the cheese) and salt and pepper the whole shebang to taste. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the top of everything. You will be glad to have that nice crunch in with the soft veggies and sauce.

Balsamic Fig Reduction Sauce

This simple sauce is equally sweet and savory, so you’ll find yourself using it in a lot of different ways. To be honest, I don’t usually make such a small batch because, as you may already have noticed, I really REALLY like figs.

2-3 fresh figs (I used some HUGE Black Missions, so you might want more if your figs are small)
1 TBLSP powdered sugar
½ cup water (use more if your figs aren’t very moist)
2 TBLSP balsamic vinegar
Juice of ¼ lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste
  1.  In a small saucepan, place the figs (I quarter mine first), sugar, water, vinegar, lemon juice, and thyme. Turn the heat on medium high, and stir roughly with a wooden spoon. You want to break the figs up a bit, so they release their precious seeds into the delicious concoction.
  2. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down a little and let it simmer for a while, until the liquid is vastly reduced.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or transferring the cooled mixture to a blender or food processor), smoosh everything up. I like to leave some lumps, as they bring me joy when I’m eating the sauce, but most of the sauce is fairly smooth.
  4. Simmer it some more, until it’s reduced and about as thick as ketchup. Or until you can’t stand it anymore and just have to eat it.

Use over vanilla nice cream, veggies, slathered on toast, or over rice.
  • You could replace the water with wine (white or red) for a more grown-up sauce.

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