Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Haskapa, nature's little present

If you live here in Nova Scotia, you've probably been hearing some hype about haskap lately. Thanks to the folks at Haskapa the new brand at the helm of its North American launch, the haskap berry, in all in't antioxidant glory, is taking the province by storm. Originating in Siberia then later carried to Japan where it is huge, haskap is the berry of the blue honeysuckle tree, tasting like blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry all rolled into one. Though the berry has been growing in Saskatchewan since the early 2000's, Haskapa in partnership with LaHave Natural Forests have only recently started cultivating, organically I might add, the berry here in Nova Scotia. Translating to "nature's little present at the end of the branch", haskap is a health powerhouse, delivering three times the antioxidants as blueberries and more vitamin C than an orange. And I can tell you first hand the stuff is delicious.

A few weeks back Haskapa sent local bloggers a sample of juice and dried berries to gain some feedback. My mind immediately went to granola. Apparently so did Kelly who made her most beloved version of Coach Wendy J's recipe. My coconut haskap granola barely made it the week. I could eat those dried berries by the handful but I think most bloggers shared my sentiment. Asheley used the dried berries in a chicken salad and Lia used them with some Brie de Meaux to create one delicious looking hot mess. My girls Sheena and Kathy of Made With Local even added the Heavenly Haskapa to their line of all natural granola bars. 

The juice with it's deep crimson colour is also incredible, bursting with berry flavour. I'm not sure if there's a berry I don't taste in there. I obviously made a cocktail with the juice consisting of Aperol, gin, rosemary syrup, haskap juice, lemon, and rhubarb bitters. It was nothing short of delicious. Resisting the urge to chug the juice and/or make more cocktails, I decided to use it in a salad dressing. Here, paired with bacon, blue cheese, apples, and pistachios, the haskap dressings adds rich colour and a fruity tartness to the dish. If blue cheese isn't your thing, feel free to replace it with goat cheese or feta. 

Haskap + Spinach  Salad

haskap dressing

1 tablespoon haskap juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon whole grain dijon
2 teaspoons maple syrup
sea salt + fresh cracked pepper

spinach salad

3 slices bacon, sliced
3 cups spinach, torn
2 tablespoons pistachio chopped
1/2 apple, julienned
2 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled

To get started, cook the bacon til crisp. I used an incredible local applewood smoked bacon from Oulton's and I suggest you do the same. That limp stuff in the grocery store can barely be called bacon though when it comes right down to it, I don't discriminate.

Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar fitted with a lid and shake to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To assemble salad, layer remaining ingredients on a plate. Drizzle with dressing. Serves 2.

For more recipes, information on where you can purchase or sample Haskapa products (there's even an ice cream!), please visit their website