witnessing valentine’s day is a wild thing. we’re subject to almost everyone’s opinions on the merits of the day and the festivities it brings. but regardless of how we feel about it, that social story is here and for as long as it is, we find our way through or around or within it. it’s the way we do that i find interesting. in my world of following food blogs, valentine’s day brings a flurry of words and recipes and photographs, many of them featuring these blooming, bloody reds with emphasis on love and life. and the takeaway from such media is this and this again: to craft opportunities to cherish and be cherished; to savor and enjoy and enrich; to mind our passions and to live with love.
the valentine’s day mantra is a beautiful call to action at its core, but as with the tidings of any holiday that comes and goes, i think we can honor the bits we find inspiring and worthy of celebrating any and every day. our own fingers choose the threads with which we weave our stories. cultivating magic among the mundane is the love in living. i think, for example, there is incredible opportunity for self love in food; in preparing a meal just for us to enjoy; in allowing ourselves to be nourished by our own hand. and we don’t need anything exotic or fancy at all to enjoy; to experience something decadent and want worthy and wonderful — a simple sandwich can love us, a monochrome bowl of beans can brighten our day, and a cup of tea with chocolate can lift the haze from an afternoon.
recognizing and allowing ourselves the opportunity to enjoy is a gift. a treasure. and to hone and humor our tastes is to be so in tune. reflect on your most vivid moments with food. what makes you feel alive and vibrant? what flavors put tingles on the top of your head? have you eaten a meal that left a warm wave of euphoria in its wake? what smells conjure memories and make new ones? i think one of the simplest steps we can take to enjoy healthful, self-loving eating is just that — to enjoy. to pay close attention to the flavors and the feelings and to follow the progressions and developments of them; to allow ourselves the opportunity to enjoy those moments, completely on, completely engaged.
i made this salad for my lunch with produce that grew from the soil just a couple miles away from where i sit right now. it wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t perfect, but it was beautiful and woke up my mind and my tongue and my whole body in the warmest way. and while i found it vibrant and delicious, i don’t posture to sell this entire salad to you as a recipe you need to recreate to find enjoyment just as i did — i think you can find your magical solo lunch or breakfast or dinner or afternoon moment. and i think you should give it to yourself, as often as you can, not because you’re special, worth it, deserving, or anything qualitative value-based judgment, but because you’re you and for as long as you are, that will never change. nourish the being of you. love. share. enjoy. live and taste it.
- sesame oil for cooking tempeh and rutabaga
- tempeh slices + tamari + seasonings as you like
- 1 small rutabaga, sliced into thin half-moons
- red romaine/any baby winter lettuces/greens
- fresh cilantro leaves
- scallion, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ tsp red miso paste
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon honey, softened or melted if necessary
- 1-2 teaspoon sesame oil -- toasted for extra flavor, if you want
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- garlic powder
- tiny bit of onion powder
- red pepper
- heat a little glug of sesame oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. toss in the tempeh slices and stir to coat. let fry on both sides until browned. toss in some easy seasonings toward the end of its stay in the pan, if you want -- i almost always use onion + garlic powders with some paprika on tempeh. remove slices from pan and set aside.
- in the same hot skillet, pour a little more oil in and turn up the heat to medium high. when it's just about smoking, add the rutabaga slices. stir a little to coat in the oil, then let the slices sizzle, stirring just occasionally until brown and crisp on the edges. season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.
- build the salad, starting with your lettuce or greens, then the rutabaga and tempeh, followed by the cilantro and scallions. grind a little black pepper up in it. salads love pepper, no?
- to make the dressing, tenderly throw all ingredients into a bowl and whisk. dance probably. stick your finger in it and lick. does it taste good? good. does it taste plain like it needs more salt? add more salt. if it's on the bitter/acidic side, add a touch more oil to smooth it out. if it's too rich, a half squeeze more lime. if it needs more body, some more tamari or miso will pump it up. congratulations, you are a certified salad dressing troubleshooter. we should go into business together. after lunch though, okay?
more salads to try
- kale & apple salad with toasted pepitas, homemade sunflower seed cheese, and honey sage vinaigrette
- pan-seared rutabaga & tempeh salad with honey-sesame tamari dressing
- pupusas con curtido (salvadoran corn cakes with spicy cabbage, carrot, and onion slaw)
- warm butternut squash and chickpea salad with lemon tahini dressing