A glowing, richly flavoured easy dish with oodles of nutrients and plant goodness. The cinnamon-pomegranate dressing pulls it all together and makes it more than the sum of its parts. Vegan and naturally gluten-free.
Winter is brooding, low and heavy, across much of the Northern Hemisphere. While tenement-deep drifts of snow plague places like Minnesota USA, here in coastal Edinburgh we are one of the last places in Scotland to get the white stuff. I bet you thought this far north we would be at least knee-deep in it, snow-shoeing our way to work. But no. Some winters we get nary a flake. White Christmases are pretty rare too.
This evening, however, we have had our first few flakes. Nothing to dash out without gloves or hat and excitedly start a snowball fight, but enough to think more might be on its way. This also flicked an annually fired switch in my head that entreats me to turn the thermostat ever so slightly higher – from 18C to 20C. As I am from southern Florida perhaps this is understandable: Sweater-weather where I come from means 23C.
With the first flurry of snow – however transient, however feeble – to me it is officially frigid. So, I am now engaged in a silent and stealthy passive-aggressive tussle (pretty much one-sided tbh) with my other half about the thermostat. Actually, now he is won over to the charms of a non-crabby, non-shivering wife, so it’s not the sport it once was.
While the world outside my kitchen window gets silently colder, my plate is increasingly coloured in shades of orange – persimmons on my porridge, sweet potatoes baking in the oven, turmeric in blooming everything, and of course hearty, meaty, winter squashes.
The colder I get the more colour I crave.
It is commonly thought that looking at red and other warm colours makes us warmer (although touching warm colours has the opposite effect). I haven’t really noticed that but I do love the cheery smile of a wedge of cantaloupe on my breakfast plate, and the sprightly pop of sweet and tang from one of winter’s best fruits, blood oranges. Don’t you?
I got my orange fix most recently with today’s sort-of salad, sort-of main dish, sort-of side dish. (It is going to be a nightmare to tag!) It is super easy, and the pomegranate-cinnamon dressing (a variation of the dressing I use in this salad) brings it all together and makes it at once more earthy and slightly exotic. Even just typing these words makes me feel a little warmer. Or maybe it is the cat on my lap.
Just a thought.
What’s been keeping you warm lately?
Roasted Flower Sprouts, Kabocha Squash & Smoked Tofu with Cinnamon-Pomegranate Dressing
I’ve gone for fashionably frilly flower sprouts – a cross of Brussels sprouts and kale – but use proper Brussels sprouts if you like. For this latter option, cut each fat, jade orb in half and blanch in boiling water for one minute, then shock in cold water. Drain and pat dry, then coat in a little oil and whack in the oven as per the instructions. Roast a few more flower sprouts than you need so you can pick them off the tray as a cook’s perk. xx
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
400-500g prepared weight (about 1 lb more or less is fine) red kabocha squash or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and sliced into thin wedges
250g flower sprouts or Brussels sprouts (see head note for instructions on Brussels), washed and lightly dried with paper towel
6-8 eschallots or one large onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges (tip: keep a bit of the root on to keep the wedges intact)
150g (5.3 ounces) organic smoked tofu, small cubes or plank(ettes)
Seeds from 1 pomegranate (tip: do this before you start the recipe so that you can scatter them on the warm vegetables before the latter cools)
1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses/syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp organic rapeseed oil or other neutral oil
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of salt and fresh black pepper
What you need: two large baking trays; 1 large mixing bowl; small whisk and bowl or jam jar with lid (for dressing)
1. Make up the dressing by whisking up in a small bowl or by shaking vigourously in a jam jar. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
3. Put the squash wedges into the large mixing bowl and toss carefully with 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil. Lay the squash onto one of the trays and place in the oven for 25 minutes, turning the slices with a spatula at about 10 minutes if you like.
4.Toss the flower sprouts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, less 1 teaspoon, and place them on the second tray. Coat the shallot/onion wedges with the remaining olive oil and lay on the same tray. Place the tray in the oven after the squash has been cooking 10 minutes (when you optionally turn the squash slices). Roast for 15 minutes.
5. Finally, lightly toss the cubed tofu with the remaining olive oil and scatter over top of the squash when you turn the squash slices/add the second tray.
6. While the vegetables and tofu are hot divide the dressing over the two trays and toss carefully with two spatulas or wide spoons – the hot ingredients will suck up the cold dressing nicely. Slide onto a serving platter and scatter over the pomegranate seeds and scrape over any juices and dressing from the trays. Serve warm with soft, warm bread or coriander/cilantro flecked mixed grains to make it more substantial (mix it right in).