January Salad With a Side of Inspiration
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the new cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas to readers and friends. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works: Meals from the Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter), due out in 2014.
There’s a lot of talk out there right now about who can make our country work again. Shrink right down to the local level, and we’re dealing with some of the same questions around our table at the town hall. I walk in to my meetings trying to stay open and optimistic, and many nights it’s a challenge to stay that way. I’m trying though, and I’ll keep trying.
I know this: Any solution that does not involve generosity is not a solution at all. That the priority of the work we do as a country, as a community, should be the people who make up the community.
It takes a shift, and I don’t know how it will happen. But in a little town in the UK, it started with someone who invited people onto her yard, into her garden. She had enough food to share, and so she offered it to people walking by. And now, the town is filled with gardens that feed its residents, and their goal is to become self-sufficient in their food supply within the next six years. I think they might just to do it.
I’m listening to the good news. I think generosity is going to win here.
A January Salad
2 medium beets
1 large bunch lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale in our house)
1 cup raw pepitas
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup olive oil
First, roast the beets. This takes a while, and so you can roast them at any time when you have something else in the oven- then you’ll have beets ready to go when you’re craving this salad. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wrap each beet in tin foil, then roast in the oven until they are tender when pricked with a fork, 60 to 90 minutes. Remove tin foil, and then slide the beets right out of their skins. Cut into 1-inch bites.
Then make the smoky pepitas. Combine the maple syrup, smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Mix well. Add the pepitas and toss to combine. Transfer to a small skillet, and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until they start to pop and smell roasted, about four minutes. Set aside.
Wash and dry the kale. Remove the stems, then cut the leaves into thin ribbons. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the chopped beets.
Make the dressing: In a 2-cup mason jar, combine the cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and olive oil. Put a lid onto the jar and shake well.
Pour the dressing over the kale and beets. Toss until entirely coated. The salad can sit in the fridge for up to a day, or can be eaten right away. Sprinkle the pepitas over top just before serving. —Alana Chernila