Tuesday 19 August 2014

Find your space: Beetroot and pistachio salad

Writing each day about positive mental health has been good for my own. It's only day 3 and already this morning, I could feel the benefits. I took my time this morning. As I pedaled my bike out the door, I realized that despite the blue sky and clear sun high in the sky, there is a September chill in the air. I was kidding myself wearing flip flops. I couldn't resist and compensated with the toasty warm blanket scarf my sister got me for Christmas. Wrapped up in the green gorse colored shawl, I set out and dedicated the morning cycle to work to being calm and listing the things I am thankful for.

The blue sky. The fresh air. The time in the morning to cycle. The bright morning. The delicious breakfast. The calming cup of meadowsweet tea. The fact I was feeling better, more energized then the day before. Finishing work at 2.30 pm. Falling in love with Steinbeck again by picking up a copy of Cannery row and, by association, falling in love with reading again. There were more. I didn't have to struggle to think of the positives. It felt good.

The last few weeks have been a bit hectic with extra hours at work and a silly chest infection that wouldn't go away. Today was the day I also renewed my connection with the Iveagh Gardens, a little park near St. Stephen's Green but far quieter and calmer than it's big sister. Relaxed and reserved and hidden away, when the weather was warm I spent hours there after work each day. It was my little space. I even had a special spot I would lie down on, knees bent, feet kicked in the air, hair to one side scooping down my shoulder to shade the page in the book. Today, I hid under a tree waiting for the rain to stop and listened to the birds chirping and the sound of droplets of water dripping their way from one leaf to the next until they were carried down with a final splash around the outside of the canopy. Then the sun came out and for that brief hour, I couldn't have been more thankful for that time in the sun. Shoulders touched by speckled light and bare feet softened by the grass. Bliss.

I realized when I got home that I was craving some last bit of summer food before I can no longer get away with it. I also realized that I had just the right ingredients to make one of my favorite summer salads, perfect for a vibrant lunch tomorrow.

Beetroot, apple and carrot are a winning combination. The textures all seem the same but once prepared differently, each ingredient takes on a bite and taste all on its own. Prepared the night before, the beetroot colors the apple bright pink with shades of snow white still evident. Carrot ribbons hold all the dressing and have a completely different texture to simple strips. The honey and soy dressing it a little bit heavier than a usual vinegar and oil version but suits the salad perfectly, especially combined with the smokiness of the toasted pistachios. Put simply, it's pretty awesome.

This is a recipe for one. Make it special, especially for you X

1 large beetroot
1 large carrot
1 apple, preferably a sweet one like a pippin but any crisp one will do

1 large handful pistachio nuts, shelled
1 Tbs sunflower and pumpkin seed mix

1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp honey

Optional: Serve as is or with greens from the garden/salad leaf mix right before eating. Just make sure to toss through and add a little more dressing right before you devour it.

Top and tail the carrots and beetroot and peel them. Wash apple and core and quarter. Slice the beetroot in three and then into small, thin, rectangular(ish) strips. Using a peeler, peel the carrot length-ways so you get carrot ribbons. Slice the apple thinly along the quarters. Put in a bowl.

Heat a small pan and add nuts and seeds. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt and toast until lightly browned. In a small jam jar, mix the dressing ingredients. Pop the lid on and shake well. Pour half the dressing on the vegetables. When seeds and nuts are done, toss through the salad while still hot (this will flavor the salad and dressing)

Keep in fridge, ready to be mixed with salad leaves before serving. Goats cheese is also very yummy with this.

Enjoy X

Remember, find your space, that place that gives you time to wonder, think, stare, zone out, snooze, relax, be you in your own world for a while.

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