It’s early, but…happy Thanksgiving, friends! It’s probably heresy, but instead of a salted-caramel-pumpkin-spice-cranberry-apple-pie or whatever seasonally appropriate thing I’m supposed to be posting today, I’ve got a kale salad for you. Yup. Kale and wild rice, to be exact.
If you’re dying for something modestly loaded with sugar for the upcoming feast, the Recipes section has you covered. I’d suggest pumpkin coffee cake with apples & cranberries, pumpkin muffins, apple and cheddar galettes, and pomegranate, tangerine, & champagne jellies, for starters. Maybe a biscuit-topped cobbler?
But if like me, you’re aware that some preemptive roughage may be in order, read on…
For the first time since we moved away, we’re headed back home for Thanksgiving. In retrospect, I sort of understand why we’ve previously gone for Christmas instead, but really? Bad decision. Thanksgiving trumps Christmas hands-down. Commercialized, overblown, politically and religiously charged, and geared towards small persons who still believe in Santa? Thanksgiving is none of these. You can wish someone a ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ without hesitation, because who doesn’t love a day devoted to food?
I was thinking about food, and eating, and our relationship with the two today when the security guard agreed to lend me his umbrella on one condition: I had to buy him a $1.25 pizza if I was going to the store on my break. I was headed out to grab an orange for a hopefully upcoming cranberry-orange pound cake with pecans. Gluten-free and dairy-free, of course.
“$1.25? Really?” I was taken aback that the rumpled dollar and grimy coins tossed in my palm could procure a pizza. “Like a personal pizza?”
“No, no,” he gestured, making a rectangle with his thumbs and forefingers. “It’s a medium one.”
“Yeah,” piped up the custodian. “Totino’s, I think.”
And so I headed out into the rapidly darkening afternoon, hurrying against the wildly gusting, storm’s a-coming wind. In the store, I picked up my orange, and stood bewildered in front of the pizzas, undecided despite knowing that the bottom was going to fall out any minute outside. Wow. I don’t know if you eat frozen pizza, but there is a whole aisle worth of frozen pizza. I dithered. Do I buy him a real pizza? Whole wheat crust, real cheese, vegetables?
Don’t be an hag, the voice in my head chided. You’d be pissed if you asked for an orange and someone ceremonially delivered a carton of blueberries with a lecture about antioxidants. I finally spotting the rack of 4/$5.00 pizzas and, telling my inner voice to shut it, decisively grabbed the sausage and pepperoni one and marched to the checkout.
The South has taught me a lot about compromise and humility with regard to food. It’s not all about me. As it turns out, very, very few people here eat the way I do. Where once everything I brought to work was magic, dinners at our house were coveted, and recipes asked after, I get skepticism and careful avoidance here. It may have taken two years, but you know what? I’m done preaching. Instead of riding in on my high horse with a heavy-handed lecture about the inferiority of Southern cuisine, I’m learning to listen. What would other people like? How can I use an obsession for standing over the stove for service rather than division?
But at home? Yeah, you betcha, I’m still eating kale and wild rice salad. This recipe is a mash-up of my two favorite salads ever: Shauna’s version of the Emerald City Salad and Sara’s Power Green Salad. Cultural competency be damned, I get weak in the knees over curly-leafed greens, toasty seeds, and cider-Dijon vinaigrette. These are my roots, this is my comfort food.
Whatever you’re up to this Thanksgiving, I hope it’s delicious. If this salad is your family’s kind of thing, it makes a fabulous Thanksgiving side. Whether it’s Tofurkey, a meticulously prepared seven-course meal, or a box of stuffing and powdered gravy mix, may your Thanksgiving be a delicious, relaxed affair that is wholly yours.
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup cooked wild rice
- 1 small bunch kale, washed, ribs removed, and chopped into ribbons (3 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup cooked beluga or French green (le puy) lentils
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1 apple, cored and diced into matchsticks
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Pour salad ingredients into a large bowl and toss gently with the dressing. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve at room temperature.