Hey, guess what????
John and I bought a house.
The story of how we found and bought the house is an amazing story for another time but since then life has been CRAZY. Packing and unpacking all of our worldly possessions was not fun but we love our new home and it feels like such a tangible reminder of God’s grace every day.
Our new home is spacious and full of windows and makes me long for loooong summer days to truly fill the house with sunlight. I can’t wait to know what each room looks like at different times of day and which rooms have the best light for photographing at what times. We have a long porch and a backyard and lately I’m dreaming of porch swings and rocking chairs and garden tomatoes and maybe even eating garden toamtoes on the porch.
Which reminds me, two weeks ago, I taught a course on Rural American Cuisine titled “American Culinary Perspectives: Diversity and Continuity” during my school’s January Term and it was one of the highlights of my teaching career.
Each January the small Christian private school where I work investigates a region of the world for a week through food, music, and seminars in order to learn how to better love our neighbors. This year our region was Rural America and my cooking group explored the questions: What is American food? Where does American cuisine originate, in rural areas or in the cities? We met for three hours at my house each day of the week and explored native american ingredients, Native American cuisine, Southern cuisine, Appalachian cuisine, and European and African influence throughout. Some of you expressed interest in the course readings and recipes on instagram so I plan to share a few recipes from the course on the blog in the weeks to come.
But for now, salad! This salad was birthed in my kitchen about a year ago. I had a surplus of grapefruits due to THIS cake and so, naturally a salad was the perfect destination for citrus.
Initially, I simply added grapefruit chunks to the salad but I wanted the grapefruit flavor to be more pervasive, so one day I juiced the grapefruit directly into the salad and tossed it with olive oil. The salad was delicious but it I thought it would be even better with some creaminess so I added almonds to the dressing and a few versions of the salad later the result was this Kale Citrus Salad with Grapefruit Dressing.
I have to admit that for a long time I enjoyed kale salads in restaurants without knowing what made restaurant salads so superior to my own. That is, until I was introduced to the olive oil massage via my friend Grace. After trying it, I was astounded by the way in which a quick massage with olive oil could completely transform a bitter and tough green into a pliable and delicious salad base. Massaged kale is now one of my favorite salad bases and one that I prepare often in our home!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much I don’t like recipes. I prefer loose formulas and suggestions and that is ultimately the way I treat recipes anyway. Usually, I read over a recipe once or twice and then try to cook the recipe on my own. Recipes are a source of inspiration but not something I follow religiously (disclaimer: I am very meticulous my FIRST time trying a new recipe or my first time cooking something I have not tried before and I am especially careful when it comes to baking). This salad is something like that, there are a few ingredients I strongly recommend you use but there’s also freedom to tweak the ingredients based on what you have and the end result can vary a little.
I rarely make this recipe exactly the same but it is a kale base with apples, citrus, nuts, cheese and a grapefruit vinaigrette. The dressing is made with grapefruit juice which yields a tart and bright flavored dressing that also ends up a beautiful pale peach hue. The dressing combined with the salad is crunchy, fresh, creamy and sweet all at once! I usually add at least three different types of citruses: orange, clementine and grapefruit work well.
Grapefruit Vinaigrette Recipe
Yields: 1 cup
- ½ cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
- ¼ olive oil
- ¼ toasted almonds
- 1 tablespoon of sweetener, sugar or maple syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
Kale Citrus Salad
- 1 bunch of kale, washed and drained
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tart apple, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2-3 different types of citruses, cut into slices or supremes
- ¼ cup toasted nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)
- ¼ cup crumbly cheese (goat or feta are my favorite)
- Occasional Add ins: pickled red onion, jicama, korean pear
- Dressing: combine all of the ingredients for the grapefruit vinaigrette into blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
- Take kale and roll up as you would for a chiffonade. Cut into thin slivers. Then cut slivers into bite size lengths.
- In a large bowl combine kale and one tablespoon of olive oil. Massage until kale is soft and your hands are slightly green (1-2 minutes)
- Combine all of the salad elements into one bowl and toss with grapefruit vinaigrette.