Living half my life in Seattle has come with its pros and cons. I’m a bit of an introvert so I tend to favor gloomy, overcast days that encourage one to stay indoors, happily puttering and hibernating until it’s time to come back out and see daylight again. Fortunately or unfortunately, Seattle gets a lot of those kinds of days. This winter, however, has left me with a bit of cabin fever and the thickest and darkest days have made me ache for just a sliver of light. I know of at least two days this winter when I reached for my sunglasses, vampire-like, somewhat surprised by how warm and sudden the light was. I wish I were kidding. It’s a bit like that here being further North. And yet, imagine my surprise and sheer giddiness when I learned this week, that despite losing an hour of sleep this weekend, we’ll be gaining more daylight. Hooray!
In the meantime, I’ve been acclimating to my new digs and surroundings, breaking in the kitchen and whipping up some healthier fare to combat the winter bulge that is prone to happening when it’s harder to get out to exercise and the thought of getting pelted by cold, windy rain makes you slink further under the covers. The day my useless umbrella turned inside out on my attempt at walking around a nearby lake, wasn’t exactly encouraging either. This is also why people in Seattle don’t bother with umbrellas.
My challenge was to whip up a recipe using hearty greens and I choose collards. I find people either love them or hate them. So harsh, I know. Typically, you’ll see them cooked in a lot of Southern cuisine, braised in liquid, usually paired with a smoky hamhock or bacon. Delicious for sure, but I think the lack of light and my low energy had me craving raw and fresh so I took an alternate route. For someone who voluntarily admits to not liking salads, I always find ways to make ones that work for me. The creamy poppy seed dressing in this one doesn’t hurt either. Neither did the sweet parsnips which I learned are better in the winter because the starch converts to sugar making them even better than when they make their first appearance in the Fall. So Winter’s got that going for it, I guess.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the unexpected snow days, the cozy roaring fires and the weekends spent filling the kitchen with the scent of roasted vegetables or soups, I’m ready for the smell of fresh green grass and the sound of bird chatter in the early dawn. Farewell Winter. Until next time.
- 1 large bunch collard greens, stems removed and cut into ribbons
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into slices
- 1 large parsnip, cut into thin matchsticks or diced small
- 1 large carrot, cut into thin matchsticks or diced small
- 1 large green apple, cored and sliced thin
- 1 cup whole pecans
- 1 1/2 cups lowfat plain yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Toss collard greens into a large salad bowl along with peppers, parsnips, carrots and pecans. Reserve slicing green apple until ready to serve to prevent from browning.
- In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing except the oil and salt. Slowly drizzle in the canola oil and season to taste with salt.
- To assemble, mix salad and garnish with a few more pecans and apple slices. Drizzle dressing on top.
If you can't find collard greens, lacinato or regular kale make a great substitute. There's a lot of crunch in this salad so smaller pieces makes enjoying this one a little easier. If you don't like green apple you can easily substitute any of your favorite types. This dressing can be made without the oil, just use a little water to thin it out. To save time, pre-mix all the veggies in a large re-sealable bag and then just garnish and dress the salad when you're ready to enjoy it.