About this recipe:A warming autumnal dish of roasted root vegetables with aubergines, pears and bacon. Roasting brings out the sweetness of the vegetables and, unlike boiling, retains all the goodness.
1 aubergine, cut into 8 lengthways
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 lengthways
3 parsnips, quartered lengthways
150g baby leeks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried
2 firm pears, cored and quartered
8 lean smoked back bacon rashers
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
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Preheat the oven to 200°C/ gas 6. Arrange the aubergine, sweet potatoes, parsnips and leeks in a single layer in a wide roasting tin. Use a pastry brush to coat lightly with oil.
Sprinkle the thyme over the vegetables and season with freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender, then turn the vegetables and add the pear wedges, turning to coat lightly in oil. Arrange the bacon rashers over the vegetables.
Return the tin to the oven for 15–-20 minutes until the vegetables and pears are tender and the bacon is lightly browned. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and serve hot.
*When quinces are in season, they can be used instead of pears. *Add garlic instead of pears – simply halve the bulbs (unpeeled) across the middle and add to the tin for the final 20 minutes of cooking. The garlic will taste mild and sweet, tender enough to squeeze out and serve with the vegetables. *If baby leeks are not available, replace them with ordinary leeks, sliced diagonally, or alternatively use wedges of red onion instead.
If you arrange all the vegetables parallel in the tin, they are easier and quicker to brush with oil.