Everyone says the month after Christmas is the bleakest of the year but I always find it beautiful & pretty joyous. I love how the light changes, subtly at first, then in great leaps & gallops as February approaches. I love how the month gives you a little time to catch up; to get your priorities in order for the year ahead. I love the colours – egg yellow sunsets burning up in the sky and pink light at dawn & dusk. I love seeing gardens & landscapes frosted & misty in winter, elegant in their bare bones with lots of nice little curiosities close to ground level if you look closely enough. I love winter ingredients and the uncompromising, punchy colours they so generously offer to the winter plate – bright, zesty citrus fruit; flavourful dark greens, deep ochre earthy root veg.
I put this salad together for lunch yesterday with some of these winter finds and although I hadn’t been planning to do a blog post it was just so damn cheerful & delicious that I felt I had to share it.
With its simple dressing, sparse ingredient list & wonderful, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts flavour, it’s a January salad that makes you stop and properly appreciate the month for what it is – the tentative beginning of a whole new year ahead, and all the excitement, sunsets, pink light & food with friends or family that it will bring.
Perfect for a brunch or a light weeknight dinner with friends – simply serve with good bread and blood orange prosecco mimosas & enjoy!
Serves 2-3; adjust quantities as required
2 free range eggs
1-2 tins of tinned smoked trout or tuna
1 pink grapefruit
Large handful of cavolo nero kale
A lighter salad green, like spinach or watercress etc
Good quality olive oil
Fennel seed (the greener the better)
1 cup of wheat berries
A block of halloumi
Set the wheat berries on to boil in lots of salted water – they’ll need about 30 minutes to become tender. Slice the halloumi, brush with a little oil and grill or fry until golden & crisp. Cover the eggs with cold water in a small saucepan & bring to the boil. Turn down the heat once the water comes to the boil and simmer for around 7 minutes for semi-soft eggs. Pour off the boiling water, replace with cold water and leave for 5 minutes then peel & slice. Prepare the grapefruit by slicing off the top and bottom, then paring down on all sides with a sharp knife to remove the skin & pith. You’ll be left with a sphere. Cut into the segments so that you’re removing the flesh in segments and leaving the pith that holds them in behind. When the wheat berries are tender, drain return to the pan, and tear the kale into the saucepan. Stir in with a little olive oil so that the kale warms slightly, then transfer to a serving plate. Top with the lighter greens, the grapefuit segments, the sliced egg. Drizzle over some more olive oil & season with black pepper and a little salt, then either serve the drained smoked fish on top of the salad or on the side.
The pictures above are some of the happy sights I’ve been taking in since Christmas on my camera, in Lahinch, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham & the Phoenix Park.
This January, I’ve been enjoying:
This great piece by Jennifer O’Connell in The Irish Times on not accepting stress & anxiety as part of the status quo of modern life
The 15th anniversary edition of Donna Hay magazine
Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff
La La Land and, even more so, Jackie