How do you feel about the color red? As I photographed this post, I realized I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, myself.
I’ve been told I look good in red, that it is a good color to use as an accent in a room. But I never, ever wear colors in the red family. No pink, no burgundy, no purple. And you won’t find any red throw pillows or artwork here in the house in the woods or in my office in the village. Red is a difficult color to achieve in ceramic glazes and many potters seek a good fire engine surface. Not me. Couldn’t care less.
I’ve always thought it has to do with my preference for earthy colors. I live in the woods, prefer to look at greens, golds, browns. But…this week, I am reminded that for a few gaudy weeks a year, Our Mother gets all tricked out and carnival on us! And I love it!
And of course, I LOVE all the red foods. Apples, tomatoes, berries and radishes are gorgeous and delicious. Look at my Instagram feed and you’ll see plenty of bright color.
So, why my seeming aversion? I think it’s really about intensity. It scares me. It’s why I am having such a difficult time with the election. My own temperament is intense. I spend my life and my life’s work learning to sooth, to calm, to reach for what is most humane in my humanity. We are wired to live in nature, which is primitive, often dangerous. We are naturally reactive, combative, fearful. I believe that to truly live well, we must practice being peaceful and peaceable. We must consciously focus on getting along with others, letting things go, resolving inevitable conflict with friendly intent. This election season reminds me of the ugliness of human reactivity, and it is painful. I hope when it is over, we will all move toward healing.
So, I resolve to embrace red and cherish its intensity without anger or fear. Intensity is a part of us; it needs to be expressed. I will express my intensity by cutting open beautiful red fruits and vegetables while being as kind as I can to the people around me.
This salad embraces the intensity of red while celebrating the freshness of green. The tart sharpness of pickled radish and bitter depth of kale, and sweet/sour charm of pomegranate are met and mellowed by creamy goat cheese and toasty nuts. And while it’s delicious as is, the addition of tahini sauce makes it truly unusual and delightfully nuanced.
Brilliant Kale Salad
Feel free to substitute any radish, turnip, or beet, for the watermelon radish here. You may slice the radish on a mandoline or use a very sharp knife. Alternatively, you might like to grate it, which isn’t quite as pretty, but potentially easier and just as tasty.
Vegans, dairy-free, and paleo folks: This salad is perfectly delicious without the cheese.
6-ish cups baby kale, or equivalent*
1 watermelon radish, sliced paper thin
3 tbs. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. cane sugar
¼ cup pomegranate arils
1 ½ oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted pepitas
3 tbs. xv olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
optional, but very lovely: Tahini Sauce with Herbs
*or use a similar quantity of sliced curly or tuscan kale.
Variation: Use orange slices instead of or in addition to the pomegranate.
Make the pickled watermelon radish: Place the sliced radish in a soup/cereal bowl, add the salt and sugar and toss. Pour over the vinegar, toss again. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.
Assemble the salad: Drain the pickled radish, reserving the liquid. Place the kale in a salad bowl and drizzle with the reserved vinegar mixture and the oil. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale. Or use my stand mixer trick. I use my hands if I’m making the salad with baby kale (needs much less encouragement to wilt), the mixer if my kale is more mature.
Now, top the salad artfully with the remaining ingredients. This is terrific served right away, but may be refrigerated for a few hours or even overnight with perfect results.