It doesn’t feel like November at all in Arizona. The nights are cooler now but the days still reach the high 70s or low 80s, and of course there are no fall colors to speak of, no blue-gray, shadowed, cloudy skies. Not a flake or flurry anywhere.
But still, we press on into autumn and all that it brings into the kitchen: root vegetables, cranberries, the dark, sweet flavor of maple syrup.
We don’t eat a lot of beets in my home, which embarrasses me a little bit as the writer of a healthy food blog. There are only a few ways we enjoy that distinct flavor, and in this recipe, that sweet maple and tart cranberry combination really complements the strong earthiness of beets. For color and the pleasure of sweet potatoes (which I do love), I’ve added sweet potatoes to the dish. The beets dye them a little bit, creating a beautiful sunset color in this dish.
These roasted beets and sweet potatoes would make a lovely holiday table side, especially for Thanksgiving! Not a fan of marshmallows on your root vegetables? Neither am I. But maple syrup on them is something I can definitely get behind. And this recipe is incredible easy, too, as the flavor of the cranberries infuses into the beets and sweet potatoes as the maple helps to caramelize them. All you have to do is toss the ingredients together and stick them in the oven! Then go on with whatever else you’re making, and pull them out when the sweet potatoes are golden brown and the cranberries are a little shrunken, their juices leaked out and saucing the veggies. Cranberries are not just for sauce, friends! Get creative with them.
We actually use cranberries year-round, and when we lived in Wisconsin, we would buy bags and bags of the most beautiful, delicious locally-grown cranberries at the Farmer’s Market during its last few weeks of the year. They keep really well in the freezer and we enjoyed them well after their traditional season of enjoyment.
These roots would be perfect as a side dish for some seasoned brown rice or barley, or some roasted chickpeas. Yum! Or if you eat meat, they’re a great healthy carb to accompany your turkey or chicken. Personally, I’m really into barley right now, so that’s what we had with them. The roots have an earthy, sweet flavor and creamy texture that balances the chewy, nuttiness of the barley. Delicious.
I used both red and golden beets this time, thinking they’d be extra beautiful, but it really didn’t make a difference as the yellow ones turned golden-brown from the roasted anyway. As you can see, the color effect was a lot more obvious before I roasted them. Choose whatever beets you can get your hands on, and whatever variety of sweet potatoes.
Beets and sweet potatoes with maple syrup and cranberries in a deliciously roasted side dish.
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 2 medium beets, any color
- 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 pinches sea salt
Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
Slice the beets and sweet potatoes in 1/4-inch slices (don't beat yourself up over the width, just try to keep them uniform).
Spread the vegetables out on a large parchment-lined baking tray. Dump the cranberries evening over them.
In a small cup or bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Drizzle it over the vegetables and cranberries and toss to coat evenly. Re-position the roots so they're flat on the baking sheet and not overlapping if you can help it.
Bake for 30 minutes, then flip the roots over and bake for 15 more (total time 45 minutes). When they're soft and golden-brown, they're done! Don't let them bake long enough for the cranberries to burn, just keep an eye on the tray. 45 minutes should work well.