This past weekend, I saw my first snowfall of the year. The plump flakes reminded me of the short, crisp days to come, of walks where a bright red berry or a still-green blade of grass will surprise me. As winter days wink by, flanked by longer and longer intervals of darkness, I’ll be more and more on the lookout for sparks of color and light.
The snowfall also got me looking forward to Hanukkah, and thinking about finding a few mirrors to multiply the candle flames. Because if a set of singing sparks is lovely, why not bolster the chorus with two or three more?
I’ll also be looking for sparks for the table as the farmer’s market offerings in my area lean toward turnips and potatoes. I recently experimented my way to a salad that I think will offer a nice, bright compliment to beloved, oil-soaked latkes, roasted root vegetables, and other wintery dishes. It brings together several winter sparks. The base is the vibrant green of kale, which splashes its emerald leaves across the cold fields of the Mid-Atlantic this time of year, which is studded with orange sections and glistening pomegranate seeds—imported sparks from warmer climes. (Of course, if you live in California or Florida, this scenario is a little different!)
In addition to the visual spark of this dish, it packs a nutritious one, too. That’s something I can use, as getting sick is sure to put a dark damper on things any time of year. Oranges are renowned for their Vitamin C content, with an average naval orange providing more than a day’s worth. A cup of raw kale gives you more than twice your daily value of Vitamin A, along with high levels of Vitamin C and an off-the-charts helping of Vitamin K. Kale also has calcium, iron, and magnesium. Pomegranates are famous for their free radical-fighting polyphenols . And raw garlic—where to begin? It adds yet more Vitamin C and can help you fight infection with its antimicrobial properties and promotion of white blood cell production.
With that, I give you:
Raw Winter Spark Salad
3-4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Juice squeezed from 1 or 2 of the sectioned oranges leftover innards, or 2 tsp. lemon juice
½-1 tsp. sea salt
1 small bunch fresh kale (I used traditional curly, but I’m sure Red Russian or Lacinato would also work!), washed and chopped
2 oranges’ worth of orange sections* (Keep the innards for the dressing!)
1 small or medium pomegranate worth of pomegranate seeds**
For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or Magic Bullet-type contraption and puree. If you don’t want to fire up and clean a food processor, just mince the garlic very fine and mix with the other ingredients.
For the salad, combine the kale and dressing in a large mixing bowl and toss well. When the kale is evenly coated, add the oranges and pomegranate seeds. Toss gently to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.