Winter Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Persimmon, Pomegranate,
+ Cranberry Vinaigrette
It's getting all kinds of wintery up in here! Okay, so not like actually wintery because I live in Southern California where there is seemingly eternal sunshine - but winterish. Definitely more wintery in some places than others, but tomorrow it is officially December. Almost Christmas, and New Year's and 2016...but before that, we have a hard, long holiday season where the weather is cold and the sweets are always around and maybe you just can't possibly stomach another baked good. I get that. So here I am, offering friendship and a meal that'll pick your immune system off the floor and right the balance of good bacteria in your belly. It's packed full of fall + winter foods and drizzled with a tangy cranberry vinaigrette, which nicely rounds out the sweet and savory flavors. It's easy, it's delicious - let's EAT!
4 cups spinach mix OR mixed greens
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 medium sweet potato, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 persimmons, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch wedges
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sweet white onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon champagne OR apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup OR agave nectar
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash spinach and arrange on a serving plate or in a large bowl.
Slice sweet potato rounds, arrange onto a lined baking sheet and drizzle with the coconut oil. Add a sprinkle of salt + pepper, if you like. Roast them for 20-25 minutes, flipping about halfway through.
While the sweet potato roasts, prepare the persimmons, pomegranate arils, and pepitas and set aside.
When the sweet potato is finished, dress the greens with the sweet potato slices, persimmon wedges, pom arils, and pepitas.
To prepare the vinaigrette, simply combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender until dressing comes together. Adjust to your tastes as needed.
Toss the salad in the vinaigrette or drizzle it over the top, serve, and enjoy!
Serves 2-4, depending on portion size.
Another easily customized dish. Don't have sweet potatoes? Use squash! Don't have pumpkin seeds? Try sunflower seeds or dried cranberries. The must make here is really that tangy, fall-friendly vinaigrette - it tastes great!
Until a few years ago, I had never tried a persimmon. I grew up in Maine, where anything but local produce can be hard to find, and in the winter time, it can be hard to find any produce at all. Needless to say, I had long since moved to California when I got my first taste of these little beauties. Native to China, they were introduced in California sometime in the middle of the 19th Century, and Americans have been hooked ever since. They have a delicate flavor, sweet with a little tang, and are great in baked goods or sliced with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. I've seen loads of persimmon based muffins, cookies, crumbles, and cakes lately, so I decided to make my own version: a buttery, flaky gluten-free crust (yes it CAN be done!) under a rich, gingery cheesecake middle, topped with sugared persimmon slices and finished with a sweet smattering of coconut whip. This dessert is low sugar, so pretty guilt-free, and a crowd-pleaser- we shared with our friends and it was gone in one night! It would make a great Thanksgiving dessert and takes about an hour to throw together. We hope the friends at your table love it as much as ours! Let's eat.
INGREDIENTS: Buttery Crust:
2 cups gluten-free flour blend (we used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 GF Baking flour)
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum (only if your flour blend doesn't include any, and even then- optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegan butter
9-12 tablespoons ice cold water
Ginger Cashew Cream:
2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes in warm water
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, or about a 1-inch chunk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Coconut Whip: 1 can full fat coconut milk 3-6 tablespoons powdered sugar 1-2 teaspoons vanilla
INSTRUCTIONS: Buttery Crust: 1. To prepare the buttery crust, mix flour, xantham if using, and salt in a large bowl, then cut in butter using a fork or pastry butter until crumbs form. Drizzle tablespoons of ice cold water one at a time over the mixture, using a wooden spoon to stir and work the liquid in until a dough begins to form. Add water until dough is moist enough to form a ball but not too sticky to knead. Add more flour, a little at a time, if needed. Once dough is prepared, roll out to about 1/4 thickness and press into your 11-inch tart pan, being sure to line the edges as evenly as possible. I use the back of a wooden spoon to press the dough evenly into the tart pan. Once finished, place in fridge to chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Ginger Cashew Cream:
2. In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine soaked and drained cashews, water, maple syrup, ginger, vanilla and nutmeg and blend on high for about 1 minute, until mixture is completely creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture into your prepared crust and set aside.
3. Wash and thinly slice the persimmons, discarding the ends. Toss persimmons in sugar and ground ginger mixture, then arrange them around the tart, starting on the outside and working your way in, overlapping the persimmon slices slightly. Bake the tart, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove, let cool, and serve with coconut whip.
4. Refrigerate coconut milk overnight, being careful not to shake or jostle cans. Once you're ready to make the whip, gently open the can and use a spoon to remove the thick white layer of coconut from the top half of the can, leaving the clearish liquid left at the bottom. Put the thick white cream into a mixing bowl with the sugar and vanilla. Mix with hand beaters until mixture is smooth, creamy, and whipped up. Serve a dollop with each slice of tart! Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days, re-fluffing with beaters as necessary.
5. To serve, slice tart into pie-slices, then top with coconut whip and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Save leftovers, covered in the fridge, for up to a week. Enjoy!