This is one of those revelatory, OMG recipes. A few simple ingredients combine to create a dish of depth and complexity. The sweetness of the dates (or other dried fruit) plays off against the earthiness of the roots and the tangy yogurt sauce balances it all out. Try this with a single root or a combination. Dates, I think are best here, though dried figs and prunes are quite good. Ground sumac is a Middle Eastern spice made from dried, red sumac blossoms (yes, like the ones that grow out here). It’s becoming more readily available, check the international section of stores. There is a mixture, za’tar, that includes sumac, so you could sub that. Another good sub is a combination of lemon zest and pepper. Be warned if you get sumac–it’s delicious and addictive eating!
6 T vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 lbs diced root vegetables, peeled if necessary
1/2 dried thyme, marjoram, cilantro, or rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 c pitted, sliced dates
1 c Greek yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t (fresh) lemon juice
1 t ground sumac or 1/2 t lemon zest with 1/2 t ground (white) pepper
salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large skillet combine the vegetable oil and smashed garlic cloves. Gently heat until the garlic turns golden. Remove skillet from heat, remove garlic (save for another use or pop into your mouth for instant garlic pleasure!). In lieu of this process, if you have garlic-infused oil, have 6 T of it at the ready.
2. Put the chopped root vegetable(s) into the skillet along with the dried herb. Toss to combine. If the skillet is oven proof, smooth the vegetable(s) and put the skillet in the oven; otherwise scrape the vegetable(s) onto a baking sheet and then place into oven.
3. Roast for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Add dates and stir again. Return to oven for about 8 – 10 minutes longer until tender. If your vegetable pieces are large you may need to roast them longer before adding the dates. When done to your satisfaction, remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter.
4. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, sumac or sumac substitution, and a bit of salt.
Serve alongside roasted vegetable(s).