A few weeks back I was sent a couple of samples to try from a company called Abakus Foods. They sent me dried jujube fruits and jujube crisps. Now I'm guessing most of you have never heard of a jujube fruit, I certainly hadn't! And everyone else I spoke to hadn't heard of them either, except my little sister. My sister studies Chinese medicine, and the first thing she said to me was "Oh those are really good for you!". Jujube fruits are also known as red dates, Chinese dates or Korean dates and are used commonly in Chinese cuisine and Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine believes these little fruits are brilliant blood building fruits, and as a vegan I don't eat the other main source of blood building foods; meat, so I would be highly recommended to eat these. Seventy to eighty times higher in Vitamin C than grapes and apples, jujube fruits are also full of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. This vitamin-packed punch makes jujube fruits a real super food. Jujube fruits are said to stimulate the production of white blood cells (hence the term blood building), which improves immunity, and decrease the levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream, which helps protect the liver. Like acai berries and other antioxidant foods, they’re even believed to suppress cancer cells. They are also widely used in Chinese medicine as a herbal remedy for calming the spirit, as they are thought to directly nourish the heart (the home of the spirit in Chinese medicine). They are traditionally used in tea (I made a traditional tea myself look out for it on my Instagram @thedopeyvegan) and in chicken broth to add sweetness, but I really wanted to create a new, interesting and vegan way to eat them. For this recipe I used the dried jujube fruits, not the crisps.
If you're wondering what they taste like, they are very similar to dates but less sweet. Dried they have a chewy texture, you could use them in the salad dried but I personally soaked them beforehand. Soak for at least an hour.
My sister who had tried them before told me she wasn't really a fan. But when she tasted the fruits I had been sent she actually really enjoyed them, and said they were a lot less bitter than the ones her friends in college had been eating, so a good reason to get your jujubes from Abakus Foods.
I paired the jujube fruits with roasted onions, aubergine, parsnips and carrots, chickpeas and salad with a tahini dressing. Despite the fact the jujube fruits originate in China my dish was inspired by Moroccan food and their use of sweet fruit in savoury dishes. So a bit of a world wide mash up but it worked really well. If you don't have jujube fruits you could use dates, apricots, or raisins to add a sweet fruity flavour, but I would highly recommend jujube fruits because they are amazing red balls of goodness! Find them here.
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chilli
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 bag of green salad leaves
4 sprigs of mint
1/2 a bag of coriander
Around 20 jujube fruits (soaked)
1/3 cup almond flakes
2 tablespoons of tahini
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt to season (add to taste)
1) Chop the onion, aubergine, carrots and parsnips into reasonably thick chunky pieces. Mix together the olive oil, chilli, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and paprika.
2) Place the vegetables in a baking tray and pour the olive oil mixture over them. Mix the vegetables around so the oil is evenly coating them. Place the tray in the oven at 200'c for 40 minutes.
3) After 40 minutes add the chickpeas to the tray, place back in the over for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove when the vegetables are cooked through and browning.
4) While the chickpeas and vegetables are in the oven mix together the tahini dressing ingredients.
5)Chop the mint and coriander, and slice the jujube fruits in half.
6) In a frying pan toast the almond flakes. Keep on a low heat and watch carefully, moving the almonds around constantly. They will begin to brown after a minute or so, once they have all browned slightly remove from the heat.
5) In a bowl place the salad leaves, mint and coriander. Add the roasted vegetables and chickpeas and pour the tahini dressing over the top. Add the jujube fruits and toasted almonds and serve.