seasons & spice pairings: winter

Seasons and Spice Pairings: Winter Produce

I can hardly believe it’s November already. Of course that’s because generally it’s warm and sunny here in Austin. Just last week I was trying to explain to my mom (in Chicago) how 80 degrees can indeed feel like fall to us.

While we might not have extreme season changes, winter produce is slowly starting to show up. Pears, Pomegranates… I’ll take them all. Today, I’m sharing a few more of my favorite easy ideas for pairing fresh produce with McCormick’s Gourmet Spices.

Mushrooms: To me, nothing is more comforting (yet healthy) in the wintertime than mushrooms. We just love cremini mushrooms in hearty soups. I make a version of this white bean soup all the time – when I don’t have fresh herbs, I change up the flavor combination using cumin and coriander instead.

Pears: Crisps and crumbles are my favorite easy desserts to throw together. My favorite version right now is this walnut pear crisp. In addition to cinnamon, try spicing it up with nutmegallspice or cardamom.

Seasons and Spice Pairings: Winter Produce Seasons and Spice Pairings: Winter Produce

Brussels Sprouts: I didn’t realize how great brussels sprouts were until I first had them roasted with crispy browned edges. As they come out of the oven, toss them with a big squeeze of orange juice, soy sauce (or better yet, fish sauce), and a few pinches of crushed red pepper. Or toss them with this chili-orange vinaigrette and serve with rice.

Winter Greens: I love kale, and I’m assuming if you read this blog than you do too. One of my favorite go-to kale preparations is a raw salad made with an ancho chile vinaigrette. (Olive oil, ancho chile, honey, and a little white wine vinegar). Massage torn kale leaves with the vinaigrette until the leaves become tender. Top with feta cheese and pomegranates.

And when you’re tired of kale (as if that could ever really happen), try out mustard greens or collards to change up your green routine. Sauté mustard greens as you would spinach, or make chipotle-spiced hummus wraps using collard leaves instead of a tortillas.

Seasons and Spice Pairings: Winter Produce

Cauliflower: I could write a whole post about the versatility of cauliflower. But the way I eat it most often is simply roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika or madras curry. Make a little yogurt sauce with ginger and a squeeze of lemon to dip it into. Or blend it up your roasted cauliflower into this smoky roasted cauliflower & leek soup.

Seasons and Spice Pairings: Winter Produce

Pomegranates: Pomegranates are on trees all over my neighborhood right now. Their seeds are delicious in salads (like the one I mentioned above), or topped on oatmeal or yogurt. I make this maple cinnamon granola all the time. It’s great to have on hand for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

This post is in partnership with McCormick. All thoughts, words and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support Love & Lemons!

walnut pear crisp

Walnut Pear Crisp / @loveandlemons #vegan #glutenfree

It took everything in me to not title this one “pair crisp.” With quotation marks. Because this is a dessert for 2 – get it? (Jack is sitting next to me right now shaking his head).

Bad puns aside, I love desserts that are easy to make in small portions. Because if I made this large enough to serve 4, it would still serve the two of us. Just one more bite after one more bite and it would be all over. We have no control.

Walnut Pear Crisp / @loveandlemons #vegan #glutenfree

If you love apple crisp as much as I do, I’m telling you, you have to try it with pears. They’re so soft and sweet that they practically melt into the crumble topping. And because (ripe) pears are so much softer than apples, this bakes in about half the time. Which is just enough time to wash the dishes, pour two after-dinner cocktails and cuddle up on the couch with two spoons.

Walnut Pear Crisp / @loveandlemons #vegan #glutenfree

shredded brussels sprout & apple salad

Shredded brussels sprout, apple & kohlrabi salad / @loveandlemons

You may or may not have noticed, but I love salads. I intended to start November off with big hearty Thanksgiving inspiration… but, well, I’m not sure if the thought of mashed potatoes made my jeans feel tighter or if it was all the Christmas cookies I ate last week (don’t ask)… this week I ended up craving soups and, especially, salads.

I’m really excited about this salad because it’s so simple yet so delicious with all of it’s shred-y, crunchy textures. If you have a mandoline, this will go really quickly. If you don’t, you can use a sharp knife, just try to slice everything as thin as you can. (And a side note: please use the safety attachment even though I didn’t here).

Shredded brussels sprout, apple & kohlrabi salad / @loveandlemons Shredded brussels sprout, apple & kohlrabi salad / @loveandlemons

Shredded brussels sprouts and apples are the base of this salad. At the last minute I also tossed in some kohlrabi which had been sitting in my fridge for weeks as if it were waiting to be included in this salad. Sliced into thin matchsticks, it offers a really nice crunch. If you don’t have kohlrabi, you can skip it. But don’t skip the dried fruit or the toasted nuts. It’s these sweet & salty flavors that bring everything together.

We ate this salad with big bowls of pumpkin soup, but it’ll also be great as a lighter option on your Thanksgiving table.

Shredded brussels sprout, apple & kohlrabi salad / @loveandlemons Shredded brussels sprout, apple & kohlrabi salad / @loveandlemons

forbidden rice pumpkin salad

Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad w/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette / @loveandlemons

Are you sugared out yet? Since I already posted my one and only candy idea, I wasn’t quite sure what to make for today. I was going to skip this holiday post altogether until Jack came up with the genius thematic idea to make something with black forbidden rice. I had a pumpkin sitting on my countertop as well as some blood oranges… so naturally, I came up with the ultimate halloween salad for this L&L Spook-tacular post. (That’s what Jack is calling it).

Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad w/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette / @loveandlemons Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad w/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette / @loveandlemons

I made a blood orange vinaigrette spiced with cumin, coriander and a bit of cinnamon. I just love how the warm spices bring out the natural sweetness of the roasted pumpkin. (Of course, if you don’t feel like tackling a pumpkin, feel free to use butternut squash cubes instead).

Pomegranates worked well into my bloody little theme here, but they’re also a perfect pop of flavor with the orange.

Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad w/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette / @loveandlemons

The salad is finished with toasted pumpkin seeds and feta cheese – a super flavorful combination to hopefully offset your candy-induced sugar rush.

Forbidden Rice Pumpkin Salad w/ Blood Orange Vinaigrette / @loveandlemons

I hope you all have a happy & healthy Halloween weekend!

spaghetti squash w/ chickpeas & kale

Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale / @loveandlemons #glutenfree

The first time I had spaghetti squash, it was served with a big scoop of store-bought marinara sauce mixed in. It was slimy and goop-y and decidedly not spaghetti-like.

About a month ago, ditching the pasta idea completely, I planned a post for bbq spaghetti squash tacos. I have a super cute photo to prove that the meal existed, but the recipe ended in total disaster.

So, long story short, I’ve learned that I prefer my spaghetti squash as simple as possible and most importantly: sauce-less. The roasted strands come out of the oven with a nice al-dente bite but, smothered in sauce, they become just too mushy for me.

Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale / @loveandlemons #glutenfree Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale / @loveandlemons #glutenfree

In this recipe, the roasted squash strands are lightly tossed with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and a good squeeze of lemon. I added chickpeas and kale to make it a full meal and toasted some pine nuts for crunch. Sun dried tomatoes add a nice pop of flavor but you could add anything briny that you like – capers, or maybe some chopped kalamata olives.

So while spaghetti squash is not pasta and it never will be, this veggie-packed bowl just moved up my list as a healthy weeknight favorite.

Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale / @loveandlemons #glutenfree