Roast kumara

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Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes


By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

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We tend to think of roots as being just potatoes, carrots and parsnips – but there’s a huge array of them out there. Many come to us from other culinary cultures, but you can be sure that they’re being eaten around the world all the time. The rule-of-thumb with roots is always to put them in plenty of cold water and bring them to the boil – although if you’re cutting them up into smaller pieces, cooking them in already boiling water is fine. All roots need to be firm and dense; if they feel fluffy or have any discoloration or rotten bits, avoid them. They store well out of the fridge in a cool, dark and dry place – avoid warmth and light.

If you want to try some slightly more adventurous roots, here are four recipes, most of which will work for almost any type of similar vegetable. All serve 4 as a side dish.


Kumara is the native sweet potato of New Zealand. Regular sweet potatoes also work well cooked in this way. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Gently scrub the skins of 2–3 kumara (about 600g), then chop off both ends. Cut into 1.5 cm thick discs and boil in salted water for 12 minutes. Drain and sit on a parchment-lined baking tray, drizzle with 4 tablespoons avocado (or extra-virgin olive) oil, season generously and roast until golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve as roast potatoes – but they also go really well with any hot fish dish or roast duck.