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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Perfect Winter Salad

Winter is the time to store energy and strengthen reserves. The floating energy of Water symbolizes winter. The kidneys control the mineral/salt-water balance in the body. Salt is the essential taste for winter cooking. The minerals not excreted are concentrated in the blood. This mineralized blood is condensed into bone marrow, which serves as a reservoir when more blood is needed. In this way the kidneys nourish the bones. Foods to nourish kidneys include: buckwheat, adzuki beans, sea salt, miso, tamari soy sauce, and sea vegetables.
Excerpted from Cooking For Regeneration, by Cecile Tovah Levin

For a recent Macrobiotic cooking class I made a pressed salad. For this method you are actually cooking the vegetables with salt, pressure and time, and to do so you can use a Japanese pickle press (visit the StillPoint Schoolhouse store) or layer all the ingredients in a bowl and apply a weight, such as a large can or jar of beans, as pressure. Either way the results yield a crisp, crunchy, delicious salad.

The dressing you use can be salty and pungent as with the Wasabi Dressing or sweet and sour as the more traditional Honey Mustard Dressing demonstrates. However, one of the best things about a pressed salad is that it needs no dressing to taste great. Make enough salad for a few meals plus both dressings so you can change the taste for lunch the next day. Serve with a hearty bowl of winter stew and a warm cup of Kukicha tea.

Winter Pressed Salad
2 broccoli stalks, peeled, sliced into thin rounds
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
¼ red onion, sliced thin half moons
¼ Granny Smith apple, sliced thin
1 small head Romaine lettuce, washed and sliced thin
2-3 leaves of radicchio, washed and sliced thin
½ avocado, sliced thin
Toasted black sesame seeds
Sesame dressing or Honey mustard dressing.

Wasabi Dressing: 2 Tablespoons wasabi or to taste * 2 Tablespoons Mirin * 2 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce * 2 Tablespoons Brown Rice Vinegar * 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Sesame Oil * a pinch of Sea Salt * toasted sesame seeds to decorate

Honey Mustard Dressing: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil * 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard * 1 teaspoon agave or rice syrup * 2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar * few drops of Ume Plum vinegar

1. Place all vegetables, except avocado, in a stainless steel or glass-mixing bowl. Add the salt and mix well.
2. Place a plate over the vegetables and press down or use a Japanese pickle press. Weight the plate with a 2-pound can, jug of water or other heavy object.
3. Press vegetables for 1 hour. Remove plate, and squeeze out excess liquid. If the salad is too salty, rinse with cool water and dry thoroughly. Toss with dressing and serve.
Serves 6

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