Better for the environment, your wallet and your overall wellbeing, there’s never been a better time to start making the most of delicious seasonal produce
As much as we love berry smoothies and avocado toast, it’s debatable whether we should be able to enjoy them all year round. Eating in sync with nature’s rhythms not only cuts down air miles and supports local food producers, but it often results in fresher, tastier food too.
That’s the idea behind Sarah Britton’s irresistible new cookbook My New Roots: Healthy Plant-based and Vegetarian Recipes for Every Season (Pan Macmillan). Divided into five sections – spring, early summer, late summer, autumn and winter – the vibrant, whole-food recipes are all based on what’s in abundance at any given time of year. Winter means dishes like chipotle sweet potato tacos, savoury-sweet leek “scallops” on black rice and poached pears with raw chocolate sauce. Read on for four beautiful recipes, courtesy of Britton, which you can recreate when the winter days call for ultimate cold weather fuel.
Chipotle Sweet Potato and Trumpet Mushroom Breakfast Tacos
When I go out to a restaurant for breakfast, my eyes are like heat-seeking missiles searching for the words breakfast tacos. Breakfast tacos are most definitely a North American phenomenon, so here in Copenhagen, I am pretty much forced to make my own. These little beauties feature my favorite tuber, the sweet potato, all spiced up with smoky chipotle. I’m hoping my version of breakfast tacos will change the collective consciousness in this city and I’ll see something similar on a menu here soon. Until then, I’ll just be thankful I don’t need to change out of my pajamas to eat them. (There’s no need to limit yourself to making this for breakfast, either—this meal would make a delicious lunch or dinner.)
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons cold-pressed olive oil, plus more for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon raw honey or pure maple syrup
2 cups / 175g shredded cabbage
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
Fine sea salt
2 knobs of ghee or coconut oil
1 small red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon chipotle powder or hot smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 pound / 500g), cubed (leave the skin on if organic)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup / 225 ml water or vegetable broth
2 handfuls (5 ounces / 150g) trumpet mushrooms (or any mushroom you like), sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
11⁄2 cups / 250g cooked beans (approx. 1 14-ounce / 400g can) of your choice (optional)
4 large or 8 small sprouted corn tortillas (Ezekiel brand is good)
Your favorite hot sauce, for serving
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and honey. Add the shredded cabbage, coriander, and sea salt to taste. Toss well.
2. Heat a knob of ghee in a large frying pan. Add the onion and a couple pinches of salt. Cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle, and cayenne, and cook for another minute or so. Add the sweet potatoes, tomato paste, and water or broth. Cook, covered, until the sweet potatoes have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, set the mixture aside, and wipe out the pan. Return the pan to the heat.
3. Heat another knob of ghee in the hot pan. Add the mushrooms, making sure there is enough space between them to cook. Do not stir them for about 5 minutes—this will allow them to brown a little on one side. Then flip them over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until golden. season with salt and pepper. If you’re using them, add the beans to the pan and heat until warmed through.
4. In a dry frying pan over medium-high heat, warm each of the tortillas, then wrap in a clean tea towel to keep hot until serving. To serve, put a helping of the sweet potatoes on each tortilla, followed by a few slices of mushrooms. garnish with the cabbage slaw. serve with hot sauce alongside.
Cranberry Carrot Loaf
Makes 1 Loaf
This bread is pretty much an excuse to eat carrot cake for breakfast! Super-moist and tender, loaded with tart cranberries—you won’t believe that it’s good for you. Take a slice with you on the way to work, and pack an extra one in your lunch box for good measure. Your four-o’clock tummy rumbles will thank you.
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1⁄2 cup / 125ml milk of your choice (nut, seed, rice … )
1⁄4 cup / 60ml coconut oil, plus extra for oiling the pan
2 teaspoons grated organic orange zest
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11⁄2 loosely packed cups / 140g grated carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1⁄2 cup / 125ml pure maple syrup
11⁄2 cups / 180g whole spelt flour
1⁄2 cup / 50g rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3⁄4 cup / 80g cranberries, fresh or frozen
1. In a small bowl, combine the chia seeds and milk. stir, and let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to gel.
2. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4. Lightly grease a standard loaf pan with coconut oil.
3. melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, and then stir in the orange zest and vanilla seeds. Remove from the heat.
4. Put the carrots in a medium bowl. Add the maple syrup, the milk-chia gel, and the coconut oil mixture.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, oats, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool completely. The bread will keep wrapped at room temperature for 5 days. store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Leek “Scallops” and Chanterelles on Black Rice
This is the kind of meal you’ll want to curl up with on a snowy winter night. It’s hearty, comforting, and just plain delicious. I cannot remember where I heard of someone using the whites of leeks in place of scallops, but I thought it was so brilliant I had to try it, too. Cooking them with a little broth in the pan to steam and flavor them cuts back on fat but seriously enhances the taste. The savoury-sweet leeks pair very well with the rich chanterelle mushrooms. The black rice completes the plate with its complex creaminess and beautiful hue.
11⁄2 cups / 320g black rice, soaked if possible
Fine sea salt
3 large leeks, as fat as you can find, with long white stalks
2 knobs of ghee or coconut oil (preferably ghee)
5 garlic cloves, sliced
14 ounces / 400g chanterelle mushrooms, sliced in half if large
1⁄2 cup / 112ml vegetable broth
Cold-pressed olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the rice, 2 pinches of salt, and 3 cups / 675ml water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer until the water has been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. Slice the white part of the leeks into rounds about the width of a scallop (about 1 inch / 2.5cm).
3. In a large frying pan, over medium heat, melt a knob of ghee. Add the garlic and fry just until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and toss to coat. Cook without stirring for about 5 minutes (this will allow the mushrooms to brown on one side). Then flip them over and fry until golden on the other side. Remove from the pan, cover, and keep warm.
4. Without cleaning the pan, pour in the vegetable broth and bring it to a simmer. Add the leek rounds to the pan, cover, and cook, flipping them once, for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender.
5. To serve, put a quarter of the black rice on each plate. Top with the mushrooms and the leek rounds. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cracked black pepper, and add a sprinkling of chives, if using. serve hot.
Rooibos-Poached Pears with Raw Chocolate Olive Oil Sauce
This is one sexy dessert. I know what you’re thinking: poached pears? Thanks, Grandma. Trust me, this is a very hip way to end a meal. What’s even better is how amazingly simple yet flavorful it is, with a game-changing chocolate sauce that will replace all other chocolate sauces forever! This major update of a classic dessert uses rooibos tea instead of a sugary syrup as the poaching liquid. The pears become rich and caramel-y, and as a bonus, you can drink the pear-infused tea with the dessert! The sauce is a mind-blowing combination of raw chocolate and olive oil, a rich and silky match made in heaven. You don’t even need a stove to make this one—just whisk the ingredients together for an instant yet sophisticated sauce.
1⁄4 cup /15g loose-leaf rooibos tea or 8 rooibos tea bags
3 tablespoons raw honey or pure maple syrup
4 firm, ripe pears (about 6 ounces / 175g; Bosc and Conference varieties are the best for poaching)
Raw chocolate olive oil sauce (recipe follows)
1. Bring 4 cups / 1 litre water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the tea, remove the pan from the heat, and let it steep for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better). strain out the leaves or remove the tea bags. sweeten the tea with the honey. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a simmer.
2. Peel the pears and slice them in half lengthwise (remove the hard core). slide the pears into the sweetened tea and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Pour chocolate sauce onto the center of each plate. Carefully remove the pears from the tea, and put 2 halves on each pool of sauce. Drizzle more sauce into the hollow center of each half. serve warm.
Raw Chocolate Olive Oil Sauce
Makes about 1/4 cup / 60ml, enough for 4 pears
3 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
11⁄2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Pinch of fine sea salt
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
Whisk the olive oil, maple syrup, and salt together in a small bowl. sift in the cacao powder, and whisk well to remove any lumps.
Extracted from My New Roots: Healthy Plant-based and Vegetarian Recipes for Every Season by Sarah Britton (£16.99, Pan Macmillan), available to buy now.
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Photography: Sarah Britton
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.