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Roasted root vegetables with thyme and balsamic

Roasted root vegetables with thyme and balsamic

This is a gloriously flavoursome dish that you can either eat on its own or, if you prefer, have with a roast chicken or some grilled fish. Choose a fish with good texture – Dover sole stands up well to root vegetables. If you’re having it with chicken, sprinkle a few drops of balsamic over the bird before you put it in the oven; it will enhance the savouriness no end.

Serves 6 as a main course
9-12 jerusalem artichokes according to size, peeled and halved if large
18 shallots, peeled
18 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 small celeriac root, peeled and diced into 2cm dice
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced into 2 cm dice
1 large head of radicchio
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 4.
Parboil the artichokes for about 8 minutes, then throw them into a large roasting pan with the other root vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and add some olive oil – just enough to coat them. Sprinkle some thyme over – dried is fine, providing it hasn’t been hanging around too long – and then sprinkle over some balsamic. Toss to make sure everything is coated. Put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the radicchio into 6 segments and remove the hard root end. When the root vegetables have been roasting for 20 minutes take them out, add the radicchio, seasoned with a little more salt, pepper, thyme and balsamic, and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes. The radicchio should finish up slightly crisp on the outside, but cooked and soft on the inside.

There are contrasting and balanced flavours and textures here – the bitterness of the radicchio, the sweetness of the squash, the garlic and the shallots, the aromatic flavours of the celeriac and artichokes – plus underlying earthy notes. A red Rioja would go beautifully, preferably something quite weighty. If you’re having this as a side dish with fish you could still drink red – the textures will bridge the gap between the wine and the fish – but go for a slightly lighter wine.