Spring. Plus, a Kale and Asparagus Salad

It’s hard to get excited about seasons in Los Angeles, because there aren’t any.  But there’s a jacaranda tree right outside my living room window, and it’s in full bloom right now, and it’s gotten me thinking.

My grandmother passed a few months ago, and I delivered the eulogy at her funeral.  In it, I mention how powerful it can be when you first realize that spring has arrived – and when you live in Michigan, as my grandmother did (and I did for the first 23 years of my life), that’s a crystal clear moment.  When I was writing the eulogy, it occurred to me that, as an Angeleno, I might not have that epiphany this year, nor could I remember ever really having it in the nine years I’ve been in L.A.

I’ve had family on my mind all weekend.  On Saturday, I spent a lovely afternoon with my aunt and uncle from that side of the family, who were spending the week in San Diego and drove up to see me.  Then, yesterday, I had a nice, long chat with my sister on the phone, and as I was hanging up, the jacaranda caught my eye.  I put my phone on my coffee table, and just stared, for a good long while.  And that’s when it hit me, for the first time in years: spring has arrived, and it’s right outside my window.

I miss my grandmother.  I miss being 5 years old, when she would play “This Little Piggy” with my toes.  I miss wandering into her kitchen, and lifting up the lids of the pots on her stove to see what she had cooking – and she always had something cooking.  I miss her looping her arm through mine, so I could help her down the two steps from her front porch to the path.

This is the part where I somehow transition to the original goal of this post: to share a recipe I made this weekend.  I can’t figure out a good way to segway between these two disparate topics, so screw it.  Who wants to read about my kale and asparagus salad?

I’ve been enjoying kale a lot lately, and my kale chip posts (this one and this one) have been pretty popular, so I hope everyone likes this recipe, too!  I made it up as I went along, using what I already had in my fridge.

It starts with (surprise!) kale.  I found this pre-washed bag of kale (with some carrots and cabbage thrown in) at Whole Foods:

It’s a pretty small bag, compared to the other bagged salads in that section of the store, but it turns out the kale is packed in there.  It was a pleasant surprise when it filled up my big salad bowl as much as it did!

Next I minced up an entire shallot and added it in:

Next comes the asparagus.  My friend Jen told me last weekend how she had found a recipe online that called for shaved asparagus, where you use your vegetable peeler to slice raw asparagus into thin ribbons.  I love dealing with raw asparagus (see my raw asparagus salad here), so I just had to try it!  After chopping off the tough woody ends, I introduced the asparagus stalks to my peeler:

My new vegetable peeler slid through the stalks like butter, and soon, I had a pretty little pile of asparagus ribbons to add to the bowl:

That’s ribbons from about 8-10 stalks – about half of the bunch that I had in my fridge.

Next, I added some sprouted red lentils – about 1/2 cup or so.  They add color and some protein:

I also threw in some vegetarian bacon bits.  My bottle only had a few tablespoons left, so I just dumped it all in, although most of it was more like bacon dust than bacon bits:

Lastly, the dressing.  I thought something citrusy and light would go well with this salad, and I probably would have whipped up my own dressing had I had any fresh citrus lying around, but I didn’t.  So I turned to the fridge, where I had this bottle of dressing that I bought a little while ago but had never opened or tried:

This came from Whole Foods too, and each 2 tablespoon serving has 10 calories and is fat-free!  I poured on a generous amount – maybe 4 servings or so, since kale is hearty, and, in my experience, doesn’t get too soggy from dressing.  The dressing was good – tangy and refreshing, and the good thing about kale is that it’s better if you let it marinate for a while.  I planned on letting the salad sit for 30 minutes before I dug in, but I only lasted about 20 minutes.  See how long you’d last when you end up with a finished product like this one!

It’s so good it deserves a close-up:

I ate half of it for my dinner, and the other half is my lunch today!

Keep it up, David!

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9 Responses to Spring. Plus, a Kale and Asparagus Salad

  1. Arlene says:

    Looks delicious, David — and this is coming from someone who doesn’t eat kale. Your salad makes me want to give it a try.

  2. Steve says:

    I’m excited for Spring too, even if it’s been 90% rainy crap so far! And I’ve never had kale (love asparagus) but that salad looks absolutely awesome! (one more use, there ya go: ;)

  3. Tavi says:

    I love the jacaranda trees!

    Now that you are officially a foodie, you will have other indicators that spring has arrived, such as the cherries you see popping up at farmer’s markets and your local whole foods!

  4. Sheilah Lowe says:

    That salad looks delish. Cherries are coming in from CA right about now. Had some the other day, expensive, but oh so good. David, I’m glad you found your “spring”!! Keep, it up, David!

  5. Wow David, this looks easy and delicious! I can’t remember eating kale so I’ll try it soon because you were right on about radishes.
    When I make the salad, I will try shaving purple asparagus like the bunch I found at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods yesterday.
    I know how it feels to miss your family, and I hope you feel lots of comfort soon. <3

  6. darnfitness says:

    I could almost hear the sound effect of a vinyl disc scratching off in a phonograph in the middle of the post ;P

    My jaw dropped with the raw asparagus ribbons, because I’m a food nerd like that. Can’t wait to try it!

  7. DidoCarthage says:

    Yet another good idea from your blog! Thanks, David. I really enjoy reading your stuff.

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