Tzimmes is an eastern European stew of carrots and/or sweet potatoes and prunes traditionally cooked with beef flanken, often sweetened with brown or white sugar, and sometimes thickened with flour. In Yiddish, the word tzimmes means “a big fuss,” probably because of all the work required to make the old-style dish. This version couldn’t be easier: Skip the meat, sugar, and flour and instead roast carrots, sweet potatoes, and dried Santa Rosa–type plums (or common dried prunes) in fresh orange juice until they are tender, browned, glazed with citrus, and deliciously infused with orange. Tzimmes is a great companion to brisket or chicken and is also a good accompaniment to farro or quinoa for a pareve/vegan main course. It can easily be made a day ahead and reheated and is often served in the fall for Rosh Hashanah and in the spring for Passover. It is also a lovely addition to any festive meal during these times of the year. Both seasons yield sweet carrots, especially in the spring. In the fall, use new-season white- or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Makes 8-10 servings
6 to 8 oranges
2 pounds (900 g) carrots
3 pounds (1.4 kg) sweet potatoes
1 pound (450 g) shallots (about 8 large)
½ to ¾ pound (225 to 340 g) dried plums or pitted prunes (vary the amount depending on how sweet and fruity you want the dish)
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white or black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Using a swivel-blade vegetable peeler, remove the zest in large strips from 2 of the oranges and the lemon. Be sure to press down only hard enough to capture the colored part of the skin, not the bitter white pith. Juice enough oranges to yield 2½ cups (600 ml) juice. Reserve the lemon for another use.
Peel the carrots and cut them crosswise into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks or lengthwise into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks (if carrots are very fat, first halve them lengthwise). Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large bite-size chunks. Peel and quarter the shallots lengthwise. Use kitchen scissors to snip the dried fruits in half.
Use a roasting pan large enough to hold all the vegetables in more or less a single layer. Place carrots, sweet potatoes, shallots, dried fruit, and lemon and orange zests in the pan. Toss with enough olive oil to coat evenly, season with salt and pepper, and pour the juice over all.
Roast the vegetables, turning them once or twice during cooking, until they are tender and are browned in places and most of the juice is absorbed, about 1¼ hours. If you want a saucier finished dish, add another ½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 ml) juice during the last 20 minutes of cooking. The juice should thicken slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Staci Valentine.