Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Chilli Roasted Oca with Hedgerow Pesto – Two Recipes for the Price of One

Chilli Roasted Oca with Hedgerow Pesto

CT has been interested in The Lost Crops of the Incas for a very long time. One he’s been growing over the years is oca (Oxalis tuberosa).  I was recently gifted a kilo of beautifully coloured oca tubers from The Guild of Oca Breeders. This was a rare treat as I hardly ever get to try any of CT’s precious tubers. You can prepare them in pretty much anyway you’d cook a potato, but I like them best roasted. Here I give you my recipe for a quick and simple dish of chilli roasted oca with hedgerow pesto.

People often ask me what oca taste like. My best description, in fact my only one, is that they are sort of like a slightly lemony potato. They come in a variety of colours and some taste more lemony than others. Like potatoes some have a waxy texture and some are floury. They are all delicious. In my experience, the white ones seem to be the flouriest and have virtually no tang at all and the bright pink ones, the most lemony. In the batch I cooked for the chilli roasted oca, it was the orange ones that were the sharpest.

Chilli Roasted Oca

Oca has been grown in the Andes for thousands of years. It’s important there for enhancing food security with its high nutritional content. It also helps control pests and diseases by improving crop rotations. It’s second only to the potato in the number of tubers grown. Oca is a good source of Vitamins A, B and C as well as iron, zinc flavanoids and fibre. In New Zealand, tubers are also widely available but are known as yams.

We’ve already got potatoes, so why do we need oca you may well ask? Variety is the spice of life and it’s always good to have some alternatives. They are a valued crop back in Peru and Bolivia, even though they have plenty of potatoes. But the key to oca is that, unlike potatoes, they don’t get blight.

Mixed Oca Tubers

A couple of years ago CT and a group of like minded oca enthusiasts decided that trying to grow bigger oca that tuberised in the UK growing season was more than one person could cope with on their own. The Guild of Oca Breeders was born. Their mission? ” To breed a variety of oca that responds much better to European variations in day length and climate”. Oca’s are daylight sensitive, as was the original potato. Left to their own devices, they don’t start to tuberise until the days and nights are of equal length, i.e. in September and October. By then, it’s too late in our season for them to grow to a decent size. The Guild are breeding new varieties and selecting the best producers in an attempt to recify this problem.

Oca Tubers

Ocas aren’t easy to find, but they are becoming more widely available in the UK these days. Look out for them at farmer’s markets. I even saw some for sale in a small Cornish shop a couple of months ago. If you’d like to try growing some of your own, you can buy carefully selected tubers from The Guild of Oca Breeders. You’re unlikely to be able to source such good specimens from anywhere else. If you’re a keen grower and would like to get involved in breeding ocas, the Guild are always looking for new members.

Chilli Roasted Oca with Pesto

So back to the recipe for chilli roasted oca tubers. They make a delicious and easy meal with wild garlic and hazelnut pesto and some sort of green on the side. We accompanied them with a few Brussels sprouts that were loitering in the fridge. I made the pesto with roasted hazelnuts and the first foraged wild garlic of the year. The slight sharpness from the chilli roasted oca cuts through the richness of the pesto and makes a perfect accompaniment.

Chilli Roasted Oca with Pesto & Sprouts

I used my Optimum G2.3 induction blender to make the pesto. It made quick work of blending the wild garlic and hazelnuts. I roasted the ocas in my Optimum HealthyFry, but they can be done just as well in the oven. The oca’s bright colours fade a little during roasting, but they still look attractive and appetising, though I do say so myself.

Chilli Roasted Oca with Hedgerow Pesto
Print
Chilli Roasted Oca with Wild Garlic and Hazelnut Pesto
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Chilli roasted oca tubers make a delicious and easy meal with wild garlic and hazelnut pesto and some sort of green on the side.
Course: Main Course
Serves: 2 people
Author: Choclette @ Tin and Thyme
Ingredients
Hedgerow Pesto
  • 100 g wild garlic - well washed and dried
  • 100 g hazelnuts - roasted
  • 75 g Parmesan or vegetarian equivalent
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
Chilli Roasted Oca
  • 500 g oca tubers - well scrubbed
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • Ā½ tsp chilli flakes
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
Hedgerow Pesto
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until just combined. I used my Optimum G2.3 induction blender.
  2. Spoon into clean jars and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Chilli Roasted Oca
  1. Mix the oil, chilli flakes and salt together in a bowl then add the tubers and stir until all are coated.
  2. Roast the oca in an air fryer at or an oven at 180ā„ƒ for 15-18 minutes, depending on size. You may need a little longer if using a conventional oven. I used my Optimum HealthyFry. They should be soft all the way through when pierced with a knife.
  3. Spoon a little of the pesto over the ocas and enjoy with some greens on the side.
Recipe Notes

The hedgerow pesto recipe makes enough for 2 small jars.

 

Meat Free MondaysI’m sending this recipe for chilli roasted oca with hedgerow pesto to Jac at Tinned Tomatoes for Meat Free Mondays.

 

 

 

No Waste Food Challenge LogoThis is really the end of Brussels sprout season and mine were only just hanging on in there. I had to take an extra layer or two off them, but they were saved from the compost heap. So I’m sending this post to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary for No Food Waste Challenge.

 

 

Other recipes for pesto you might like

Pin the recipe for chilli roasted oca

Chilli Roasted Oca with Pesto

As a Froothie Ambassador, I can offer Tin and Thyme readers free P&P on any Froothie appliance. Add 2483 free ambassador delivery to the comment box when ordering to get free postage and packing. Delivery will be credited back onto your card. The Optimum G2.3 is currently on offer at Ā£379 and the Optimum HealthyFry is on offer at Ā£149.

The post contains affiliate links. Buying through a link will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. This helps keep Tin and Thyme blythe and blogging. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    7th March 2017

    Saw oca on a local channel the other day and was wondering where I can find them…and today your beautiful recipe just popped up in my Feedly…now I really need to find them!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      Thanks Angie. They’re not easy to find unless you grow your own, but you might strike lucky at a farmer’s market or organic shop.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      Ooh, now growing them yourself would be something Helen. They aren’t difficult to grow as such, they just need a very long season, so if you do grow some, get them in as soon as you can. The plants are attractive too.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Angela
    7th March 2017

    These little tubers are so cute, I’m sure I’ve had something similar that my boyfriend’s Dad used to grow on his allotment. They remind me a bit of jerusalem artichokes as well. Lovely recipes.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      It’s the sort of thing experimental gardeners like to grow, so you may well have had them before. I know what you mean about Jerusalem artichokes, but they’re not particularly similar and definitely don’t have the same effects šŸ˜‰

  3. Leave a Reply

    Laura@howtocookgoodfood
    7th March 2017

    I am fascinated by oca, never heard of them before now so I need to keep my eyes peeled for them. I wonder of they will be more widely available soon? If not I’ll need to order some to try for myself!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      I’m sure you’d be able to source them somewhere in London Laura. Definitely worth trying if you can find them. They deserve to be much better known.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Michelle @ Greedy Gourmet
    7th March 2017

    Never heard of ocas before but would love to try them! Going traveling just makes your realise how limited range of foods are available in supermarkets. The planet has so much more to offer.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      It really does Michelle. The trouble is, unless people start demanding unfamiliar veg, the supermarkets will never stock them.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Elinor Kugler
    7th March 2017

    Ooh, they sound perfect roasted! I’m yet to try one, but love the sound of a lemony potato! šŸ™‚ Will have to get my hands on them, and try out your recipe.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      Thanks Elinor. They aren’t the easiest thing to get hold of, but it is possible. Well worth the effort.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      They do come in gorgeous colours and I’m with you on the pesto – so good!

  6. Leave a Reply

    Pretty
    7th March 2017

    This is a vegetable I haven’t come across before, will have to look out for it in the supermarkets. this recipe looks great. I love pesto with roasted vegetables.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      7th March 2017

      You won’t find oca in supermarkets or I very much doubt you will, but you might get lucky at farmer’s markets or organic shops.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      9th March 2017

      Good luck Jan. They’re not easy to find, but it is possible. Try farmer’s markets and independent green grocers or organic shops.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Eb Gargano
    9th March 2017

    Wow – this looks fab! I’ve never heard of ocas before, but they look beautiful and I love your take on pesto! Eb x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      10th March 2017

      Thanks Eb. I get very excited by the emergence of the first wild garlic leaves and pesto is a must.

  8. Leave a Reply

    Janice
    9th March 2017

    I love the look of these little jewel-like potatoes, I’d love to try them. Maybe one day!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      10th March 2017

      With your early spring flowers Janice, you might be in just the right place to grow them šŸ™‚

  9. Leave a Reply

    Lucy
    9th March 2017

    I really would love to try oca. I will see if they have any in our local farm shop, they grow quite a lot of different veg in the farm there. Love the sound of the pesto too!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      10th March 2017

      Good luck Lucy. I hope you find some. They are well worth trying and the more people that ask for them, the more likely they are to become available.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      10th March 2017

      Yes, it’s not the sort of veg you’re likely to find in the supermarkets, but I’ve seen it for sale in a few independent greengrocers.

  10. Leave a Reply

    Dom
    12th March 2017

    I kept seeing these all over Facebook last week and every time I see them I think of pigs i blankets but I know you’d never give us that so I was so intrigued. Aren’t they beautiful and parculiar. I really want to try them and with that stunning pesto too!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      14th March 2017

      Haha an OCA takeover of Facebook – brilliant. They are delicious and well worth trying if you can get hold of them, which living in London I’m sure you can.

  11. Leave a Reply

    Jacqueline Meldrum
    12th March 2017

    Aren’t they pretty? I’ve not heard of them before, but I am liking the sound of a lemony flavour. Thanks for adding them to this week’s Meat Free Mondays. Stumbled, flipped and tweeted šŸ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      14th March 2017

      Thanks Jac. They are lovely and quite delicious too. They’re a high treat for me as I rarely get to try any of the ones CT grows.

  12. Leave a Reply

    Kate - gluten free alchemist
    12th March 2017

    What a fascinating post. I have never heard of Oca, but they are so beautiful! And cooked they look amazing. I would love to try them…… I will be seeking them out for sure x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      14th March 2017

      Good luck Kate. They are well worth trying if you can find them – quite delicious, especially when cooked like this šŸ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th March 2017

      Ah noooooo Cathy. I don’t want to think of baby gerbils when I eat oca šŸ™

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>