As soon as I saw a whole stockpile of fresh organic cranberries hit the shelves at my local grocers back in December, the first recipe that came to mind was this comforting combo. Many of you have likely figured out that I LOVE variety – texture, flavour, colour…you name it. I find meals, such as this, the most fulfilling. I also get SUPER excited to share them with you all. The temperatures here have finally plummeted to a fairly freezing consistency, so coming in from the cold and getting to dig into a warm meal can make ALL the difference. Those lightly sweet/tart cranberries topping that pile of steamy quinoa + creamy wilted spinach – yes, please!
Poaching cranberries was the first for me, but fortunately enough, they turned out exactly how I had hoped – slightly sweet, tart, and plump. Typically, the way I would prepare fresh cranberries would be for a sauce, in which case they’d be smashed up and thickened with sugar. This lightly glazed option was a fresh alternative to enjoy this mouth puckering berry, which was a perfect contrast to the creamy wilted spinach.
This creamy tart duo make a lovely combo to top-off any of your favourite grains, quinoa, or even vermicelli brown rice noodles. The creamy light white sauce is complimented by dry white wine, a touch of grainy mustard, and fresh garlic – one of my favourite sauce trios.
- 2 cups (227g) fresh organic cranberries
- 1&1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup fresh mandarin or orange juice
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 5 cups fresh organic baby spinach
- 2 cups unsweetened organic almond milk
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced *I used 6
- 2 tbsp plant based butter
- 1 tbsp grainy mustard
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 tbsp tapioca flour or organic corn starch
- 3/4 -1tsp sea salt – to taste
- 1/4 tsp pepper
*Pick out any rotten or mushy cranberries prior to adding then to a pot.
Add all of the ingredients to a small pot and place over *low heat. Gently stir. Bring to a simmer. Continue simmering on low for about 20-25mins, or just until the berries are tender – be careful not to overcook as the berries will fall apart. Remove from heat.
Use a straining ladle or scoop to carefully remove the poached berries from the liquid, and gently place them into a bowl.
With the poaching liquid left in the pot, turn the heat back onto medium. Stirring often, gently boil down the liquid until it’s reduce to a syrup-like consistency (took me about 20mins). Remove from heat.
Allow the liquid to cool and then carefully pour the liquid over the poached cranberries in the bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap or a lid, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use; or, store in an airtight container in the fridge. Best if eaten within 5days.
In high speed blender, add the almond milk, sea salt, pepper, and tapioca starch. Pulse a few times until the ingredients are fully blended, and then set aside.
Add the butter to a skillet over med. heat. Once melted, add the shallot and garlic. Be sure to stir often. Once the shallot and garlic begin to sweat or become fragrant (couple minutes), add the white wine. Stir and continue cooking over med./low for 10-15mins, or until the shallot has become tender.
Pour into the skillet the almond milk mixture, and then add the grainy mustard. Stir well. Continue stirring and cooking over med./low heat and bring to a gentle boil – reduce heat if necessary. Once thickened, remove from heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir.
Add the spinach and fold a few times. Place the lid on. Allow the spinach to wilt from the steam (about 7-10mins), then remove the lid and fold again until all of the spinach is covered in the cream sauce.
Prepare a bowl with some of the cooked quinoa. Pour the cream sauce with wilted spinach over the quinoa, and top with the poached cranberries and pine nuts.
Serve warm. Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container. Good for 2-3days.
~ The accompanying base for this recipe was 2cups of cooked quinoa (featured under the Creamy WiltedSpinach).
~ I topped off my bowl with a helping of lightly toasted pine nuts.