Winter vegan salad and wine pairing

Vegan wine and food pairings are fun, colourful and delicious. They have a special way of warming the soul against even the harshest winter chills. Make the most of a whole host of nutritious vegetables with a seasonal take on a classic Tuscan salad best enjoyed with a glass of Turpino.

Uncorking a good red wine in the midst of winter is undoubtedly one of life’s pleasures, topped only by pairing it with a delicious meal. While eating salad may not be top of mind on cold winter days, bringing tasty – and, not to mention, colourful – veggies and greens to your table will go a long way toward brightening your mood while providing you with the essential nutrients you need. Whether you are looking to include more plant-based options in your diet, are a longtime vegan or enthusiastically taking part to this year Veganuary, hearty winter salads will help see you through the season.

Tuscan Panzanella is a simple but filling tasty summer salad. Originally it was consumed in the fields by those farmers who, for work, stayed away from home all day. The original ingredients are stale bread, tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil and of course olive oil. We like it so much that we have made many versions, including the one below.

A delicious challenge to tradition that features a delicious mix of flavours and textures and the tastiest winter fruits: the earthiness of the winter squash play with the delicate bitterness of the radicchio, the toasted pumpkin seeds and the pickled red onions offer crunchiness against the softer chickpeas, roasted squash and vegan ricotta.

The perfect vegan wine to escape the winter chills.

If thinking of Tuscany makes you long for a sun-drenched summer day, one sip of  Turpino from our vineyards in Maremma with its evocative Mediterranean character will almost bring you there.

Since we bought our vineyards in Maremma along Tuscany’s southern coast in 1997, we have been working at producing a superior wine that could encapsulate everything that this region stands for: a pristine environment, a new frontier, a chance to do something different and exciting. The result of years of experimenting with biodynamic farming and exploring new winemaking techniques is Turpino, a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Franc both perfectly acclimatised to the maritime, coastal climate, blended together with some Merlot that truly binds them together.

Fermentation in wooden vats and barrel ageing confers a gentleness to the spicy balsamic notes of the grape varieties and gives the wine body, finesse and a very beguiling length of finish on the palate.

What makes this winter vegan pairing work so well?

Turpino manages to be both generous and restrained at the same time, making it such a food-friendly wine. The Cabernet Franc in the blend loves the spotlight when paired with vegetables and it lights up when there are herbs in the dish, particularly rosemary, sage and thyme. On the other end, Syrah with its deep, rich fruit profile and crunchy spiciness is a desirable partner for radicchio, while also providing a delicate earthiness that marries beautifully with the squash and the toasted pumpkin seeds. Similarly to how it ties the Cabernet Franc and Syrah together in the wine, Merlot helps to round out the pairing by offering softness and roundness to accompany the mild flavours of the ricotta cheese. 

The key to getting the pairing right with salads is to pay attention to the dressing. The Dijon mustard with its spicy, earthy tang is a natural partner to Syrah, and the sweetness of the maple syrup and shallots mimics the sweetness of the fruitier notes in the wine profile. Cabernet Franc brings out the thyme in the dressing and helps create a layered experience. Overall, the bright acidity of the wine equals the acidity in the dressing, making it a successful match. 

Winter Panzanella Salad

Serves 4–6

 

For the salad:

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out and cut into 2.5 cm cubes

1 delicata squash, cleaned and sliced into thin rings

1-day-old rustic loaf of bread, torn into bite-size pieces

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced

4–5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2–3 handfuls of Tuscan kale, ribs removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

2 handfuls of other greens such as mustard greens, arugula or spinach

1 small head of radicchio, cleaned and outer leaves removed, leaves torn in half

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced

425 g organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed

50 g (1/3 cup) pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

150 g (2/3 cups) vegan ricotta (optional)

Additional extra virgin olive oil to roast squash and season chickpeas

Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the dressing:

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 small shallot, minced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

80 ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Line three sheet pans with foil or parchment paper. Place the diced butternut squash, sliced delicata squash and the bread on separate trays. Drizzle the squash with a little extra virgin oil, season with salt and pepper and an optional additional sprig of fresh rosemary and/or thyme. Bake the squash in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and tender. Remove and set aside.

Whisk the two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil together with the minced rosemary and thyme in a small bowl and pour over the pieces of bread. Using your hands, massage the herbed oil into the bread, making sure all the pieces are evenly coated and season with a little salt. Bake in the oven for about 10–15 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Personally, we like to add a little more flavour to the canned/cooked chickpeas by placing them in a small bowl, seasoning them with a little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a little red wine vinegar and letting them sit while we prepare the other ingredients. This is entirely optional but does contribute more flavour to the dish.

 

Prepare the salad dressing:

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients except the olive oil. Then slowly drizzle in the oil while constantly whisking. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

 

Assemble the salad:

In a large bowl add the greens, radicchio, celery, chickpeas and finally the roasted squash and bread. Pour the dressing over and using tongs, carefully incorporating all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the salad topped with dollops of vegan ricotta (if using), pickled red onions (optional) and toasted pumpkin seeds.

More vegan food and wine pairings for winter.

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