I’m feeling lucky. Every year, around this time, just as the sweet sound of early morning chirping birds return to pierce the remaining chill of late winter’s air, I feel renewed. It has always been this way in my life or maybe I have just chosen to remember it that way. Life is more encouraging when there’s hope and the promise for something different. I think here in Seattle, just as we all starve for sunlight, we truly appreciate when the grey of a long winter finally begins to show signs of lifting through things like the yellow dotted lawns of Spring daffodils. In that juxtaposition of dark sameness and sudden light, there’s enough inspiration to keep us hanging on for what’s next. Even as I sit here staring up at the base of a mountain of uncertainty, around this time each year, something shifts and I know things are going to be okay.
In the meantime, while I wait for this “second coming”, food always brings me pleasure. I would be what you might call an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy and want to celebrate. I eat when I’m sad or anxious and want to forget my troubles. Unlike some people who just eat because they know their bodies require it, I attach a lot of feeling to the interaction I have with food. I’ve often joked that if you ever want me to remember something significant, just associate it with food and I’ll be sure to never forget it. I’m not advocating you drown your sorrows in a bag of Cheetos like I did last week. God knows denial is a cruel mistress. Maybe just share that piece of lemon meringue with a friend next time or at least walk to the store to go buy it. The sun came out today so I made this cheerful recipe that includes a little bit of sweet, heat and something green. The green was intentional not only because today is Saint Patrick’s Day, but because whenever I need to set myself on course again, I reach for broccoli. What other vegetable screams healthy and can remind you of a friendly forest?
The waiting is always the hardest part. Lucky for us this salad comes together in just minutes. Here’s hoping we all find what we seek at the end of our own proverbial rainbows.
1 pound broccoli
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon sambal chili paste
3 Tablespoons warm water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 green apple, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup green raisins
1/3 cup pistachio pieces
Preheat oven broiler. Note: This was made in a broiler that is automatically set to 500°. If your oven broiler is hotter, adjust cooking time.
Rinse and trim broccoli. I take only about a 1/4 inch from the bottom of the stalk and then run a peeler around the outer stalks to remove some of the tougher parts of the stalk. You can then turn your broccoli, stalk side up and slice into little broccoli trees.
In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, sambal and water. Whisk to blend, then add broccoli and toss to coat. Turn out onto a baking sheet and drizzle any remaining dressing over the broccoli before placing under the broiler. Broil for about 10 minutes or until slightly charred on the edges but still crisp and green.
Remove from oven and mix with apples, green raisins and pistachios. Serve immediately or chill for 15-30 minutes.