Why, oh why did I choose Sundays? What was I thinking? I must have been on a chocolate high at the time and totally out of it. Otherwise, why on EARTH would any sane person choose Sunday morning to track her weight loss (which, at this point, is actually a misnomer; for, as of this morning, I am now tracking my weight gain. Oh, woe).
Well, I suppose I can take some small comfort in the fact that we spent all of last evening at a spectacular birthday bash for my friend Gemini I’s husband. And, given that my mouth was basically open for business between 6:00 PM and midnight last night, I’m assuming some of this is temporary (I’m hoping. . . .). Enough self-recriminations–must move onward! And man, that gal sure knows how to throw a party.
For your entertainment pleasure, I thought I’d try to remember as many as I can of the continual flow of appetizers and h’ors doeuvres that floated by all evening, aloft many a wait-staff’s capable hands. In addition to a huge buffet table heaving with platters of cheese, crackers, olives, breads and spreads and cut fruits, there was also an endless array of hot and cold appetizers, including stuffed button mushrooms, garlic-stuffed olives, one-bite caramelized onion quiches, mini crab cakes with wasabi dollops, bocconcini-stuffed sundried tomatoes, mini shrimp dumplings, mini hamburgers (yes, with mini buns–looked like plastic toys, actually!), mini cold rice paper spring rolls, chicken satay skewers, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and a probably six or seven other choices I’ve forgotten.
The dessert trays were deadly, heaped with one-bite brownies in three or four flavors, double-chocolate chip cookies and plain ole vanilla ones, three kinds of biscotti, miniature individualized banana splits served in shot glasses, all topped off by the birthday cake, an enormous rectangle of vanilla sponge decked out with cream and fresh strawberries, all tied up with white chocolate ribbons and bows.
One side of the room served as a bar station, where servers were generously dispensing custom pomegranate-blueberry martinis (I have no idea what else was in it, but it was delicious) and any type of wine or liquor you choose. I was thrilled to see my favorite Australian shiraz in the group. . . all I can say is, good thing I wasn’t the designated driver last evening (thanks, HH!).
As it turns out, Gemini II’s daughter is actuallly a vegetarian in a highly carnivorous family, so there were lots of veggie options there–though I’m not sure whether that was actually good for me or not. I threw WOCA to the winds and ate more than my fair share (and am paying the price for all that wheat I consumed).
Which leads me to. . . .salad. After that kind of indulgence, today I’m craving something basic. A simple, cleansing salad seems in order.
Now, I must admit that I’ve never really been a salad person. Is it because I don’t like salads? No, that wouldn’t be the reason; I thoroughly enjoy my mixed baby greens, for instance, whenever the HH and I have dinner at one of our local haunts. After reading about the need to properly toss a salad on The Good Eatah’s blog recently, I thought my tossing skills might not be up to snuff. Or maybe the idea of cold, raw veggies smack dab in the middle of a cold, raw winter is just too painful to bear? But that’s not it, either; I do still enjoy munching on my cold, raw apples and grapefruit.
Part of my aversion to salads may be rooted in the meals of my childhood, when “salad” meant iceberg lettuce, woody tomatoes, and wobbly cucumber slices, unceremoniously slathered with mayonnaise. Still, I was confident that years of therapy had finally eradicated that association. No, I’ve decided that the reason for my anti-salad stance is actually twofold: first, being basically lazy, I’ve always found it just so much work to wash, peel, and cut up all the veggies. And second, my frugal (okay, downright cheap) nature has too often prevented me from taking advantage of time-saving salads-in-a-bag, as I’m unwilling to fork over my hard-earned discretionary spending money on those overinflated prices. You see my dilemma.
Still, once in a while I encounter a salad that does seem worth the extra effort, and today’s recipe came to mind. Just like a fulfilling relationship, a bowl of delectable salad greens may take some work, but the result is eminently satisfying (hear that, HH?). Such is the case with several of our staple salads here in the DDD household, such as the Asian-Inspired Napa Cabbage Salad, the always-popular “Broccoli Delight” from my friend Caroline’s cookbook, or the super-easy and absolutely irresistible Raw Kale salad (“Ohh, Mum, that kale salad is our favorite! Pick that one!”). All these are delicious (and I’ll post recipes in future), but this time, I favored dandelion.
This simple, appealing salad accompanied our highly successful Savory Stuffed Crepes, which the HH and I enjoyed for brunch the other day. Originally, this recipe called for the duo of pears and dandelion, but once, when I ran out of pears I subbed apples, and have now come to prefer the latter combination.
I first tasted dandelion greens during my year studying nutrition, but had been daydreaming about them since my early twenties, when I read the novel The Bone People by New Zealand author Keri Hulme. In the book, the protagonist (an eccentric hermit whose lifestyle I sorely envied at the time) produced her own dandelion wine. Well, if I can’t have the wine, I suppose the leaves will have to do. . . .but I would still love to sample that fermented version one day.
The salad marries a subtle, slightly sweet and creamy dressing with the bitter gusto of the dandelion. Being high in calcium and other minerals, dandelions are a natural health food. They’re also a great liver tonic, stimulating that all-important organ to filter the “bad” cholesterol out of the body. And after all that booze last night. . . .well, come to think of it, I could have used a fresh juice with some dandelion leaves in it, too!
The recipe produces an abundance of fresh dressing that pools gently at the bottom of the bowl, perfect for sopping up with scraps of bread or for treating The Girls to a dressing-topped dinner. (“Um, Mum, did we hear that correctly?”) Overall, the salad is crisp, light, and very refreshing. (“Didn’t you just say, ‘dinner,’ Mum?”) And it offers a fabulous array of minerals and vitamins. (“We were sure we heard ‘dinner.’ Isn’t that right, Mum?”) And, as dandelion is both a high-antioxidant food and a leafy green, I’m submitting this recipe as my contribution to Sweetnicks’ weekly ARF/5-A-Day roundup (check it out on Tuesday evenings). It would make the perfect accompaniment to a healthy dinner. (“Knew it! Is it time yet? So, when do we get some?“) and Heather’s Raw Food Thursdays.
Bittersweet Salad with Apples and Dandelion Greens
adapted from Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont
The recipe was created by the exceedingly talented Jennifer Italiano, owner of Toronto’s first all-raw restaurant and one of my personal favorites, Live Organic Food Bar (they’ve now expanded the menu options to include macrobiotic and some other cooked items).
1/4 cup tahini (may be raw)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I’ve used reconstituted, and it’s not as good)
2 Tbsp. dulce (or other dried seaweed) flakes
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger root
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 large bunch dandelion greens, large stems removed, chopped
2 pears or apples (I used fuji), cored and thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
In a blender or in a bowl and using an immersion blender, mix all ingredients thoroughly (until the seaweed is well pulverized).
In a large salad bowl, combine the dandelion, pear, and onion. Pour the dressing over all and toss gently.
Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes (up to 2 hours), to marinate. Makes 4 servings (two in our house).