Monday, May 25, 2009

Raw Feast Salad

A cool breeze flew in through the tall windows of our city apartment this morning and slapped me in the face. Like cartoon steam the wind formed itself into fingers and tugged me by the nose into the kitchen. I stood, dumbfounded, sharpening my knife and standing before a giant head of fennel.
I was brought out of my daze when Christina walked in and said, "are you making salad already? It's morning, too early for salad!" Admittedly, that exact thought had gone through my head moments earlier, but I had been dreaming about salads all night and I wanted to start with the days recipe while my mind was fresh.
Fresh is actually the perfect descriptor for this salad. It is similar to a recipe obtained from a raw foods cookbook in that the dressing combines flavors of mint and grapefruit.
Actually, Christina and I tried the raw foods diet for a few months when an unfortunate set of coincidental antibody profiles led to the misdiagnosis of her having a rare form of autoimmune disease. We believed that we could alleviate some of her inflammation using extreme dietary measures, and why not? Countless books written by orange-skinned, white-toothed oddballs standing before juicers have been written on the subject. Their testaments contained the key to longevity and a pain free existence. We bought a dehydrator, and lusted after the 500$ vitamix blender. Day after day our kitchen was filled with the smell of sprouting beans, the countertops covered in soaking nuts and our ears were filled with the constant buzz of the dehydrator running. The preparation of a simple meal often began three days in advance. To all who are curious I am proud to announce that we actually GAINED 10 lbs on the raw foods diet (we DID go out for desert at a local raw foods restaurant almost every night).
Food made me really emotional when I was a raw foodist. A version of this particular salad sparked tears of joy and the compulsion to call Christina at work to tell her about just how good my lunch tasted. The grapefruit and the mint remind me of the Bahamas, where I have spent time as a cook on sailboats and as a little girl visiting my grandparents in their island home. Every morning in the Bahamas seemed to start with a carefully cut grapefruit half, an appropriate memory this morning as I stood before a giant grapefruit on my cutting board drinking in the fresh morning breeze.

The dressing is made as you go for this one, because the flavors of the vegetables will be different depending on when and where you buy them. You will need to taste as you go.

Slice thinly 1 head of fennel, then chop into bite sized pieces.
Peel 1-2 carrots and use the carrot peeler to shave the carrot into the fennel mixture.
Squeeze in juice of 1/2 large grapefruit
drizzle with 1 tsp honey
add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
add 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
add 1/2 cup diced/chopped fresh mint leaves
add 2 cups of bean sprouts (I bought mine at the co-op, it was garbanzo, mung bean, pea sprouts..a mixture.. you can make your own bean sprouts but it takes a few days)
Shave the outsides of 2 large beets (any color, I used chioggia because of their pretty colors) and then use your peeler to shave slices into the salad. Taste the beets, if they are bitter add a tad extra vinegar to the salad. If they are still bitter after you stir everything together add some extra vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar.
Season salad with freshly ground pepper. The dressing will be pretty mild, but you want the raw flavors of each vegetable to come through. This salad is really light and crunchy for the garden flavor lover in you!

Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel primitive oogabooga"

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