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Summer is here in the Northwest, marked by the arrival of cherries. They are lovely with their shiny jewel-colored skins. For a wonderful month or so they appear, and then before you know it, gone. A short sweet life. Here they are tossed in a summery Kale Salad along with black rice, halloumi cheese and mint.
Cherries are packed with good things. They are rich in pigments, or anthocyanins, (red, purple and blue pigments found in many fruits and vegetables, especially concentrated in their skin) known to have powerful antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that anthocyanins in cherries have amazing anti-inflammatory properties.
Consuming cherries or cherry juice can help with painful episodes of gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even sports injuries. Studies also suggest that tart cherries can help our body to fight against cancer, aging, neurological diseases and pre-diabetes. They are rich in melatonin, producing soothing effects on the brain, by calming down the nervous system, easing irritability, helping with insomnia and even soothing headaches.
The salad starts with cooking your rice. I learned something new the other day from my South African massage therapist. You can cook rice like pasta. I always thought you had to have the perfect amount of water to rice ratio (this how my mother did it). She told me while under her hypnotic massage spell, if you cook rice like pasta, and drain the rice when it’s perfectly al dente, this makes the rice hold up a little better in a salad.
She could have pretty much told me anything at that point and I would have believed her. So for this recipe, I cooked the rice this way….. and it worked great. What can I say, you learn something new every day.
Massaging Kale is easy. Pour in a little oil, a little salt and start rubbing the leaves with your fingers. You will feel the kale begin to become pliable and tender. This takes about 3-5 minutes.
For this salad, I used the Rainer cherries, but really any variety would work.
Its easiest if you pit them with a cherry pitter. You can try cutting them off the pit, but it leaves precious cherry bits behind. But in a pinch, it will work. Cut the pitted cherries in half.
Toss your perfectly cooked, strained and cooled black rice in bowl with the massaged kale, pitted and halved cherries, finely diced red onion, and herbs. You could stop at this point and keep it vegan (and maybe adding slivered almonds).
Or…if you haven’t tried Halloumi cheese yet, this is a good excuse to buy some. It has a firm texture with a delicious, slightly salty flavor. It is made from sheep’s milk, so those of you who dislike the taste and smell of goat cheese, will not find this off-putting. It is not a crumbly cheese like feta and needs to be cut with a knife. It holds up really well in salads and I have really come to love it. And just a heads up, it does not melt, so not a good choice for recipes that require melting ( like a quesadilla for example).
You can also sub mini mozzerella balls.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Kale Salad with fresh cherries, black rice, Haloumi and Mint! A simple summer salad that can be made ahead!
- Boil 1 C black rice in 4 cups water until tender but not mushy. Drain. Run cold water over it to get rice nice and cold.
- Pit 2-3 cups cherries. The more the better 🙂
- Place 2 cups ( packed) clean cut up kale ( removing giant stems) in a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Massage leaves with your hands for a few minutes. Leaves will begin to be more pliable. Baby kale takes less time. Add the rest of the ingredients. Toss, taste for salt. This salad is really good the next day as well.
- Calories: 387
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