I love this salad! Seriously it is a marvelously robust yet refreshing salad.
I want to write about a little bit something different than I usually write about when I create these posts. Food is so much more than just a recipe and ingredients, there is a story behind where it comes from, who cultivated the vegetables, why this recipe is a part of a city, and what it means to its locals. Food is nourishment, but there is also an emotional attachment to food. Think about a meal, dessert, or recipe someone important in your life has made you. Maybe it is a grandparent, an aunt, uncle, cousin, great grandparent, a mother or father, or a good friend. The dish is more than just food its emotion. It is about experiencing it with someone special and close to you. The dish turns into an experience and not just about nourishing your body, but about nourishing a relationship. This is what food has always been in communities, towns, and cities. It brings people together either through a harvest or a celebration.
Food has evolved into many different things. It was a form of currency at one point and in many places in this world it still is. Food means life. Without it we don't survive. But it also carries with it many other meanings: religious, philosophical, economy, history, and psychological meanings. A lot of us think of food, especially in this country as just food.
Bread. Butter. Tomato. Beef.
When we say it like that there is a lack of depth to the ingredient. Take for example bread. In the United States we go to the grocery store and purchase our bread from a certain aisle, eat it with some deli meat or spreadable nut concoction usually while still working so we don't even experience the meal with full concentration, or wrap it up for a school lunch for kids. That doesn't sound appetizing at all, and it is literally just food products put together to create nourishment. Bread was first created not as a shelf market item. It was a way of nourishment to extend the potential caloric intake of harvested grains by milling them, adding yeast, water and sugar. Time was taken by hand to mix, time was taken to rise the dough, time was taken to cook the bread, time was taken to enjoy the bread, and this bread became a part of a people and their culture. I am getting a bit off topic with bread, a post about this will come soon!
We have to start thinking about food as more than just 3 squares a day, a must do chore, and tasteless story-less meals. I want this post to leave you with a question... What does food mean to me and how can I change it so that it is more meaningful in my life?
Yields 6 small side servings
2 1/2 -3 cups of finely sliced raw Brussels Sprouts
4 large ribs of Celery - finely diced
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Chopped Raw Pecans
2/3 cup uncooked = 1 cup cooked whole grain Freekeh
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Salt + Pepper
1. To prepare the Freekeh, equal parts water to grain. So 2/3 cup freekeh to 2/3 cup water with a pinch of salt. Bring this to a boil, cover the pan, reduce heat to low and let this cook for about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork once cooked.
2. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts and the celery. Toss into a bowl. Add the dried cranberries and pecans. Add some salt and pepper, toss together.
3. Add the warm freekeh to the vegetables. The heat of the freekeh will help to soften and reduce the bitterness of the raw Brussels sprouts. Toss together.
3. To dress the salad add balsamic vinegar than olive oil. Adjust to your taste. I prefer this salad a bit more sweet and acidic to counter the bitterness of the Brussels Sprouts. So taste this before you serve.
4. Garnish with shavings of Parmesan cheese and serve.