Since Thanksgiving, a blanket of dense fog has infiltrated the Upper Valley of New England. Most days, it’s been a challenge to wake up until slivers of light—yellow, blue and green—finally make their way through the darkness. It’s as if the light is reminding me to stay alert to the world around, to be present, to keep my eyes open because what is important, what is beautiful, might vanish in an instant. I try not to get caught up in the frenzy of holiday activities, but the pressures are everywhere: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Local Saturday, No-time-to-rest Sunday. Yikes! It’s enough to make a person scream: “What about me? Don’t I get a say in all of this?” The answer is I do, of course. It’s a matter of staying centered and true to what is important. Family, friends, community, good food, fresh air, exercise and creativity are high on my list, no matter what the season, but particularly this time of year when I feel like I am being pulled in all sorts of ways and unwanted directions.
This Winter Greens Salad with Kale, Tahini and Lime represents my way of eating in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rich and nutritious green kale leaves are massaged with a light dressing of tahini and lime then tossed with whatever ingredients I have on hand to make a light and wonderful meal. Last night we had it tossed with slivers of dried apricots, dates, raisins and honey-roasted peanuts alongside skewers of grilled meat. Tonight, it will be filled with roasted root vegetables and a dash of sriracha sauce for a bit of spice. We’ll enjoy it with a bowl of steamed rice and stir-fried tofu pieces. Tomorrow? I don’t know yet. The possibilities are endless.
What do you do to stay centered during the holidays? What are your favorite foods right now?
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
WINTER GREENS SALAD WITH KALE, TAHINI & LIME
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar or Chinese rice wine
- juice of one whole lime
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
- 1 large bunch winter greens, such as kale, swiss chard or spinach
- 1 cup slivered dried fruits, such as apricots, dates and golden raisins
- ¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
- Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a small jar. Place the lid on tightly. Shake until all the ingredients are combined.
- To make the salad, tear the leaves of the greens off their stems. Rinse to remove any excess dirt. Shake off excess water but do not dry completely. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. (You should have about 4 cups of greens.)
- Pour about half of the tahini dressing onto the greens. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the leaves so they are fully coated. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for at least one hour. This will give the dressing time to soak into the leaves and tenderize them.
- Place the slivered dried fruit and honey roasted peanuts on top of the dressed greens. Toss everything to combine. Taste. Add more dressing, salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
1. This is a basic recipe for this salad. The key ingredients are the winter greens and tahini dressing. The possibilities for additions to this salad are endless. Here are some ideas. (Quantities will vary depending on how hearty a salad you would like to prepare. In general, about ½ cup additions per person is a good rule of thumb):
- A chopped apple, walnuts and raisins
- Slivers of roasted chicken, cashews and dried cranberries
- Grated cheddar cheese, dried apples and slivered almonds
- Bean sprouts, chunks of firm tofu and sesame seeds
- Roasted root vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces
- Croutons, shaved Parmesan, a bit of lemon or lime zest
2. Tahini is a sauce made primarily of pureed sesame seeds. It can be found in most grocery stores in the foreign food sections or near other nut butters. You can substitute a creamy peanut butter in the dressing, if you like.
3. Any extra dressing will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Bring it to room temperature before using and shake to combine ingredients, if separated. If the dressing becomes two thick, add a drop or two of water to loosen it up.