‘Hidden Life of Trees’ inspires earthy recipe

Trees chat. Trees cry. Trees nurse their young, care for the aged and work together. All of which seems both obvious and revelatory.

The hidden life of trees is disclosed in the aptly-titled best-seller “The Hidden Life of Trees.” And because the author, Peter Wohlleben, has spent his career managing forests, his account is considered sturdier than, say, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

But we all know — from fairy tale, fiction or forest walk — that the woods are awake. We know that trees share friendship with each other — and, so generously — with us.

Sweet Potatoes with Figs

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Makes: 2 to 4 servings

This recipe calls for figs, fruit of the ficus tree, along with roots in the form of sweet potatoes.

2 1/4 lbs. sweet potatoes

5 Tbsp. olive oil

Flaky salt (such as Maldon) and freshly ground black pepper

6 dried Turkish figs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 peeled coins fresh ginger

2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar

3 scant Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

12 green onions (white and green), halved lengthwise, cut into 1 1/2-inch segments

1 red chili, halved, seeded, thinly sliced

Roast: Scrub the sweet potatoes, and cut each into 6 long wedges. If they are very long, cut in half crosswise. Toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Spread out the wedges, skin-side down, on a baking sheet. Slide into a 475-degree oven and roast until soft, about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Plump: Meanwhile, settle the figs in a medium saucepan along with the zest, juice, ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar. Cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until figs return to plump fig pose. Scoop out figs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Quarter the figs, cutting away the stems.

Reduce: In a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.

Dress: Arrange sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small saucepan and heat over medium. Scrape in green onions and chili. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon the oil, onions, and chili over the sweet potatoes. Nestle the figs among the wedges and drizzle the whole composition with the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature.

Provenance: Adapted to winter conditions from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.