Winter can get a little gloomy in our part of the world, which makes it especially challenging to come up with fresh and seasonal recipes, never mind dealing with a 3:30 pm hard stop when relying on natural light for photographs. When Alanna from One Tough Cookie suggested collaborating on a post, I knew that it would be the perfect way to get some winter inspiration flowing. Here’s how it all went down: we each chose 3 of our favourite winter ingredients and challenged the other to feature them in a fun, colourful, and delicious recipe. It was kind of like a mystery box challenge, but we shared our selections in advance and had the recipes ready to go when we met.
I chose persimmons, beets, and lemons for Alanna. Beets are my all-time favourite winter veg. They’re so sweet and earthy, extremely versatile, and they have the magical power of turning things into the most amazing shade of fuchsia, if you’re not careful. Persimmons are a special treat in the winter, especially since they’re not readily available year-round where we live, though I recently discovered that there are hardy persimmon trees that will apparently produce fruit in our region…hi there future garden experiment! I wasn’t sure how persimmons would pair with beets, but I knew that Alanna would be up for the challenge and find a way to surprise me. Lemon felt like the perfect 3rd ingredient, just to round out all the sweet flavours.
Working together on a blog post was so much fun! As much as I cherish my solo work-from-home days, it was really great hanging out with Alanna and getting a glimpse of her process, as I’ve long admired her beautiful photography and the the work that she does on her blog. I also loved being able to just focus on taking pictures as Alanna cooked, and cook without having to worry about getting all the shots. Sharing food styling tricks (I learned so much) and co-mastering the soup swirl was collaboration at its best! We had a good laugh over the seriousness of our swirling efforts. SO great to know that I’m not the only crazy one.
Alanna made a roasted beet and persimmon salad with halloumi and a lemon-sumac dressing, garnished with fresh herbs and pistachios. The salad was absolutely delicious and full of bright and contrasting flavours. I especially loved the dressing, which was almost secretly infused with a smashed clove of garlic. It was perfectly garlic-y, without the harsh hit of raw garlic that can sometimes overpower a salad.
That soup that you see, the one with the killer swirl (which, btw, looked much better before I clumsily stuck a spoon in it), was my challenge. Alanna picked carrots, pears, and pomegranate for my 3 ingredients, and I made a spiced carrot and pear soup, garnished with pistachios, pomegranate seeds, and a yogurt-tahini swirl.
What are your favourite winter ingredients?
The recipe for the Persimmon, Beet, and Halloumi Salad is on One Tough Cookie.
- 2 Tbsp. of butter
- 1 medium cooking onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. of cumin seeds (sub. ground cumin)
- 1 tsp. of coriander seeds (sub. ground coriander)
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 4 cups of chopped carrots
- 1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 3 cups of water
- 1 scant tsp. of salt
- 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
- 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
- 2 tsp. of tahini
- tiny clove of garlic, minced (optional)
- a few pinches of salt
- a good squeeze of lemon juice
- pomegranate seeds
- chopped pistachios
- Melt the butter in a medium-large pot over low-medium heat.
- Sauté the onion until it's translucent and just starting to brown.
- If using whole spices (highly recommended!), grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add to the onions. Sauté for another minute or so, until the spices are fragrant and toasty.
- Add the wine and simmer for a minute or two to reduce slightly.
- Add the remaining soup ingredients, increase heat, and bring everything to a boil.
- Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes, until the carrots are soft.
- In the meantime, prepare the garnishes. Whisk together yogurt, tahini, garlic, salt, and lemon juice, and set the mixture aside.
- When the soup is ready, remove it from the heat and let the soup cool (I took mine out to the snowy back yard to speed up the process).
- Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender.
- Return the blended soup to the pot and adjust the consistency with water, if necessary. Bring it back up to a simmer. Taste and adjust with salt, lemon juice, and more chili flakes, if necessary.
- Serve with a dollop (or swirl) of the yogurt-tahini mix and garnish with pomegranate seeds and pistachios.