I’ve noticed that everyone has their own opinions on the routine, non-glamorous parts of cooking, aka food prep. Some people love it, and for others it’s absolutely the reason they never venture into the kitchen. For those of us who do cook, we seem to all develop our own specific dislikes. Many home chefs I know hate chopping onions or garlic, or detest buttering and flouring cake pans. Others can’t stand to touch raw meat, or to get their hands sticky with dough.
Personally, I’m fine with all of the above, but I think sectioning citrus was the tenth circle of hell that Dante forgot to mention. I hate it so much that I rarely bother to do it, preferring to eat stringy, tough pieces of pith rather than torture myself trying to cut clean slices of citrus. Sometimes, though, I find a reason to overlook my sectioning aversion and patiently wield a paring knife. This salad is one of those sometimes, when a beautiful plate of seasonal winter produce, with just a little bit of indulgence sprinkled throughout, truly rewards my oh so virtuous patience.
I was inspired by this citrus salad from The Kitchn that I made for a crowd at Thanksgiving (I sectioned exactly one piece of fruit before giving up). November was a little early for blood oranges and cara caras, so I used red grapefruits and sweet oranges. These easier-to-find citrus varieties were delicious, and the colorful, light course was a hit with my friends. The bright, zippy flavors were hard to let go of, so I transformed them into an entree-strength salad with a base of kale, and kept it simple with one type of citrus. The grapefruit and kale are like long lost friends here, bringing a bitter yet sweet note to the salad that gets tempered by the salty and crunchy notes of the feta and pistachios, with a background warmth from the cumin and a little zing and bite from the onion. These disparate parts all combine into a hearty, healthy, and seasonal meal that looks so bright and happy you almost start to wonder how you ever complained about food prep of any kind.
Kale and Grapefruit Salad
Adapted from The Kitchn
4 cups tuscan (dinosaur) kale, washed and chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
2 red grapefruits, sectioned
1/4 or 1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbs cumin seeds
sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the kale in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skilled on medium heat, and add the cumin seeds. Heat until seeds are fragrant and begin to pop. Remove pan from heat and add the vinegar. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper, then pour dressing on top of the kale. Let cool for a minute and then, using your hands, massage the kale for a few minutes. This will begin to break it down a bit and help to coat it with the dressing.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss well to combine.