Are you thinking about Christmas/ the Winter festive season yet? I have to admit I love getting together with family to exchange presents and share food; and also having the luxury of spending more time in the kitchen preparing the vegan versions of all our favourite seasonal foods. This year, I have promised myself an early start in planning and preparation- because I’m usually the one who leaves making a complicated gingerbread house or the mince pies until late night on Christmas Eve! (Does that sound familair to anyone else out there?)
As a light meal or starter over the festive season , you can’t go far wrong with this salad. There’s festive walnuts and cranberries with a dash of clementine’s citrus sweetness, sharp and salty almond feta and earthy beetroot. Flavoursome enough to be a treat but plenty of goodness in there as well. A chunk of warm, crusty bread would make a more filling meal (with the added bonus of being able to use it to mop up all the lovely dressing and feta crumbs.)
We served it on a bed of fresh mung sprouts and coriander leaves, but radicchio and frisée would also be perfect as their crisp bitterness would offset the sweeter berry and beet flavours beautifully. I happened to have some dried cranberries; you could go for fresh, or of they are too sharp for you go for pomegranate seeds or maybe even blueberries. This is not a quick recipe, though; take note of that if it is to be part of a multicourse meal. You can, however, make the feta in advance because that’s the part that takes the longest. Patiently skinning a bowl of soaked almonds is a labour of love. But when they are transformed into sharp, salty feta and warmed until slightly crisp at the edges…. trust me; it’s worth it!
one large or two small fresh beetroot
a handful of dried cranberries
a handful of coarsely chopped walnuts
salad leaves and/ or sprouts
1 tab extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
a dash of soy/ tamari sauce
a pinch of raw sugar
- Make the almond feta and leave it in the fridge to firm up a little.
- Meanwhile, peel and dice the beetroot. Cook it in minimal water, so that all the water s absorbed by the time the beetroot has softened.
- Prepare the dressing by shaking everything together in a jar.
- Bake the beetroot and feta in the centre of a hot oven for about 15 minutes, or until the beetroot is warmed through and the feta is dry and very slightly crispy at the edges. (Be careful to keep them separate unless you want pink feta! Actually, pink feta sounds quite nice doesn’t it?)
- To assemble the salad, arrange the beetroot, feta and walnuts on the leaves/ sprouts. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and spoon over the dressing.
- Serve while the beetroot and feta are still warm.
... We haven’t decided what our Christmas dinner will be yet, but we will have Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and probably a batch or two of mince pies. What are your culinary plans for the upcoming holidays? What Christmas recipes would you like to see here?