It’s easy to forget about the abundance of seasonal food during the short-days and long-nights of winter. I admit that I’ve become lazy when it comes to fixing meals – especially lunches that I can take to work with me. With a new, busy semester getting started I’m trying to get into the habit of doing some meal prep on the weekends so I can pull a few things together to take with me when I head out in the morning. It’s worth the planning when I can just grab a few things from my refrigerator and freezer and have a fresh, satisfying lunch at my desk while I catch up on work.
I’ve been on a kale kick lately – I use it in green smoothies (I need to be careful before I get off-topic and start going on about how much I love my new Vitamix) and salads. My other new staple is rye berries. I’ve discovered that they’re not only faster to cook than wheat berries, but I like the texture and flavor better. I cook up a big pot of them on weekends, then freeze them to use later.
My freezer is full of this winter’s produce. I’ve steamed or roasted root vegetables (beets, carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes) then frozen them. I’ve purchased pomegranates on sale, seeded them, and frozen the seeds. I’ve explored apple varieties that freeze well that I can use in smoothies or sautee as a side-dish.
Today, I was in a rush, so I pulled together a few things that I had on-hand and ended up with a delicious full-meal salad, full of this winter’s best produce. You can use as much as you like of each ingredient, and substitute or omit what suits your tastes. That’s the beauty of a salad – there’s really no way to mess it up if you include what you like. Just make sure if you use kale to massage it thoroughly so that it’s not bitter or tough. Also, it’s been a while since I’ve used toasted pumpkin seeds in a salad – I’d forgotten just how much I like them and how much they add in terms of texture and flavor.
For the salad I combined:
- kale (massaged with a drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt until it was tender)
- splash of apple cider vinegar
- apple (I like honey-crips, but use whatever variety you prefer)
- pomegranate seeds
- mandarin orange segments
- beets, steamed and diced
- rye berries (you can substitute wheat berries, quinoa, beans, or anything else you like)
- roasted sunflower seeds
- toasted pumpkin seeds
- feta cheese (goat cheese would be good, also)
Toss together and serve. The salad will keep overnight well.