Now that the cookbook insanity has calmed down, I’m trying to get back to better habits. Taste testing all day can be tiresome, and the regular breakfast/lunch/dinner routine flies out the window pretty fast.
I know, you think it sounds so great, until your belly is full and you’re staring down yet another muffin. That’s usually when I go on a tirade about the subjectivity of flavor and want to sit on the beach with some multiplication flash cards. At least you always get the right answer with math.
I’ve resolved to get more sleep and eat a big green salad every day, and I’ve been keeping my salad resolution as long as the supplies are ready. Pre-washed greens and homemade salad dressing are the two key ingredients. Leftover cooked grains are great to have on hand, too. They add bulk and sticking power.
Today, I thought I’d share my favorite combination, for those who are in a salad rut. It starts with a base of massaged kale and warmed, leftover cooked grains (I’m partial to long-grain brown rice and farro, but quinoa is great, too), and random veggies from the vegetable drawer.
The kicker is a super flavorful lime, jalapeño and cilantro dressing, which is creamy, thanks to some tangy tahini. This salad would keep great until lunchtime, if you’re packing your lunch, and it’s also easy to throw together at home. Hooray for salads!
- ½ medium bunch kale, preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, or several handfuls of your favorite greens
- 1 cup leftover cooked grains (I love long-grain brown rice, quinoa, farro or wheat berries...)
- 2 carrots, sliced into long ribbons with a julienne peeler or regular veggie peeler
- 1 radish, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds, toasted
- More ideas: halved cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, chopped bell pepper, whatever else strikes your fancy...
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup lime juice (about 3 to 4 medium limes)
- Handful of fresh cilantro
- 1 small jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1½ teaspoons honey or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional for extra heat
- To prepare the kale (skip this step if you're using any other kind of fresh green), first use a sharp chef's knife to remove the center ribs from the kale, then discard the ribs. Chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces. Then, sprinkle the kale lightly with salt, and massage the kale by scrunching handfuls at a time until the kale is darker in color and fragrant. This step reduces the bitterness in the kale and improves its texture.
- Combine the prepared kale, leftover grains (I like to warm mine a bit in the microwave first), carrot, radishes, toasted pepitas, and/or your toppings of choice.
- To make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste, and blend in additional salt if the dressing needs a little more oomph. If you’d like spicier dressing, blend in a pinch of red pepper flakes. If the dressing is too bold for your liking, dilute it with a little more olive oil and blend again.
- Drizzle the green tahini dressing generously over the salad (you'll still have plenty leftover) and enjoy.
Storage suggestions: This dressing keeps well, refrigerated, for about 1 week.