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!