Roasted tzimmes lays claim as a favorite sweet side dish made with all your root vegetables, figs, and balsamic vinegar. Molasses subs in for honey, adding a deeper and less sweetness. Za’atar gives the whole dish a fresh Middle-Eastern flavor.
Remember the super-sweet, gooey carrots always on the buffet tables of your grandmothers’ dining rooms? Don’t expect that flavor or texture here. Sweet carrots are so evocative of the Jewish holidays that we didn’t want to exile them to the history books, but we felt they needed an update. Roasting them allows the natural sugars in the vegetables to caramelize without adding sugar. And instead of prunes and pineapples, we have added dried figs—which are always elegant.—Jewish Community Center
Roasted Tzimmes FAQs
Can I make roasted tzimmes ahead of time?
In Yiddish, the word tzimmes means “a big fuss,” possibly due to the huge amount of chopping, slicing, and mixing required. And the possibility of getting some of that fuss done ahead of time is very helpful. To make things easier when cooking for a crowd, you can do all the chopping and slicing ahead of time, or you can make the entire dish the day before and reheat.
Can I make substitutions to this recipe?
Carrots are standard, but beyond that, you might find sweet potato, butternut squash, apricots, raisins, cinnamon, orange juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, prunes, maple syrup, molasses, stew meat, apples, and even broth.
- 8 dried figs cut into eighths
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
- 3/4 pound carrots (about 4) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 1/2-inch long sticks
- 3/4 pound sweet potatoes (1 medium) cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 1/2-inch-long sticks
- 1/2 pound parsnips peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes or 1 1/2-inch long sticks
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon molasses (you can substitute maple syrup)
- 2 teaspoons za’atar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Toss the figs and orange juice in a large bowl and let soak for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Drain the figs, reserving the orange juice. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips to the figs along with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, molasses, za’atar, salt, and pepper to taste and toss to coat.
- Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and roast, tossing occasionally, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, 25 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the reserved orange juice over the vegetables and toss again. Taste and, if desired, season with more salt to taste.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a tweaked version of tzimmes, and I have to say, these tweaks really work. Instead of honey, this version is sweetened with molasses for a darker, not so overtly sweet, flavor. Sweetness also comes from the roasted vegetables themselves. This sweetness is balanced by just a bit of tang from the balsamic vinegar, and you also have the tangy sweetness of orange juice.
I like that this version includes sweet potato and parsnip in addition to the carrots, and I loved the earthier flavor of figs here instead of raisins. The coup de grâce in this brilliant recipe is the za’atar, which adds an herbal zest and grounds the recipe in the Middle East. I roasted the vegetables for the full 40 minutes, and the carrots didn’t scorch at all, but the figs got a little too dry. I’d probably do 35 minutes next time. As for servings, I’d say 6, not 8.
I’ve always despised tzimmes, and that’s because most versions I’ve tasted were always some variation of mushy, over-sweetened carrots and sweet potatoes. This recipe is the anti-tzimmes but in a good way. First of all, you start with vegetables with a high sugar content—carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes—and then you add some rich figs and a touch of sweetener with a little za’atar to liven things up. Turn up the klezmer on the stereo—this is a mash-up of tastes.
I had no molasses in the house, so I subbed 1 tablespoon maple syrup. It didn’t made much of a difference to the finished dish. I roasted my vegetables for 30 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Some of the figs were scorched to oblivion at this point. A couple of the vegetables were quite caramelized but not beyond redemption. I generally roast vegetables at 375°F, as I’m usually doing other things while they’re cooking and you have a little more leeway at a lower temperature.
This roasted tzimmes recipe makes a terrific side dish. I loved the subtle sweetness, accented by the spice. I found that it was easy to prepare the vegetables in the time that the dried fruit was soaking. By following the recipe, the veggies had a lovely, light caramelization. The vegetables took 40 minutes to cook, and there were no issues with scorching with any of the veggies. I served 4 adults and 2 kids with plenty of leftovers.
Aside from all the peeling and cutting, this is a fairly easy and tasty roasted tzimmes recipe. Most of the work is done by the oven, and I like the mix of flavors. Itʻs also a great use of zaʻatar. Just a note, timing is going to depend heavily on how thick the pieces of root veggies are.
What a fabulous recipe for roasted tzimmes! Having just purchased a bottle of za’atar at our local spice shop, I was excited to use it in this unique side dish. The combination of flavors here is extraordinary. Roasting root veggies in just the za’atar alone would be appealing, but combining that flavor with gooey molasses, tangy balsamic, and the sweet flavor of figs made this recipe hard to pass up.
The dried figs were a nice complement to the recipe, and I’d add more the next time I make it. I checked my veggies at 25 minutes, and they were perfectly tender and just caramelized enough. My new bottle of za’atar was put to great use with this tasty recipe! Thanks for sharing it.
This is very nice either as an everyday side dish or as an important side dish for a Hanukkah party. Definitely a mix of east and west on the same plate. Very easy to prepare with an amazing aroma during roasting. The kids were sneaking the carrots. Definitely making this dish for my Hanukkah party!
Originally published December 4, 2015