At the beginning of January I have usually reached my limit of culinary hedonism and alcohol-fuelled Tuesday mornings (only in December do I find rye and gingers to be a perfectly acceptable breakfast food). While I thoroughly enjoy eating my own body weight in eggs Benedict and caramel croissant pudding I am now at the point where I’m beginning to feel revoltingly sluggish and disinclined to do much more than lay around on my couch watching all three Mission Impossible movies. So tonight I thought I would compose a salad (composing sounds so musical compared to “throwing it all together”) using the most colourful vegetables I could find. The brighter the vegetable the more nutritious I feel it must be, therefore making me feel instantly brighter (the placebo effect is not lost on me) even though I am still stuck languishing on the couch. I make an improvised dressing with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, some kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, and a good splash of vinegar, in this case a fig flavoured Balsamic vinegar. I always eyeball the amounts and in this case I never pre-mix. I like an extremely tart dressing with an oil to vinegar ratio of 1:3, but you can use any ratio you would like based on your own personal preferences. For a salad like this, especially one that is the focal-point of your meal, I think presentation is important because it makes me crave all of those amazing vegetables instead of a giant piece of cake for dinner. A good rule of thumb to consider is that of contrasting shapes which make the salad more interesting to look at as well as to eat. Seeds, in this case sunflower seeds, offer a nice break in texture as do nuts, dried fruit, cheeses, and beans. If you don’t have a salad-spinner (as I don’t), a good trick is to put your freshly washed greens in a clean pillow case and go out onto your balcony and spin the case around your head. Don’t make the mistake I did and perform this step indoors as everything within a 12-foot radius will be soaked and your boyfriend will wonder loudly what the hell you’re doing.
A Salad for the New Year (or after too many G&T’s in lieu of water) :
For the Salad:
A handful of kale, leaves washed and kept whole
1 cup of spinach, washed and dried
1/2 cucumbers, sliced
3 scallions, sliced diagonally
A handful of grape tomatoes
1/2 a medium-sized beet, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. fig flavoured Balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and coarse black pepper, to taste
1. Arrange the vegetables and seeds in a pleasing arrangement; drizzle the oil and vinegar over the salad and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
I make a lot of food bopping around to this song; I love The Feelies and this song in particular always cheers me up about a million per cent. If you’re suffering through dark early January with that awful feeling that you have nothing to look forward to – well, this song is for you.
The Feelies – Sooner or Later