For those moments during 'the Holidays' when you don't want to emotioally connect to your food
Every year, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, after countless meals seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg, an overwhelming amount of pumpkin and squash, and an almost maniacal emphasis on all things decadent, I become momentarily oversaturated. The thought of yet another meal served with the intent to coat my insides in warmth, nostalgia and rich, top-button-unfastening indulgence has everything inside me screaming for something light, bright and totally non-emotional.
Don't get me wrong, I love food with feeling, but after weeks and weeks of being made to have an emotional connection to everything from the latte I order at the coffee house, to the shameless Holiday rendition of my favorite granola, I crave a meal that leaves me feeling, well, nothing. Nothing but totally satisfied and just a little virtuous, that is.
The thought of sweet, bright and clean mandarin and blood oranges, peppery, sharp arugula, earthy beets and tangy, warm goat cheese served up with creamy avocado and toasted pine nuts, has me breathing a satisfied sigh of relief and gives me the momentary respite I need, in order to power through the remaining three weeks of excess.
The measurements for this salad aren't particularly vital - if you like more greens than fruit, by all means, skimp on the fruit, and via versa.
To fan the avocado, slice it in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the two halves from the shell using a spoon, keeping each half intact. Thinly slice the avocado halves, and then gently fan the slices using your fingers and light pressure.
To sear the goat cheese, roll it into little balls (I use about 1-2 tbsp per ball), then flatten them into discs. Coat the outsides of the discs in almond meal by gently pressing the discs into it.
Sear the cheese on an oiled pan over low-medium heat, until lightly browned. It's a delicate process, as I don't like to add a binder to the cheese, so just keep the heat low and work carefully.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, over low heat, until fragrant and browned. (They go from toasty to burnt pretty quickly, so keep a close eye on them!)
Combine the arugula, beets and both oranges, Top them with the seared goat cheese medallions, a fan of avocado, some pomegranate seeds and a smattering of toasted pine nuts.
Dress the salad with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve it up!
Simple, satisfying and probably lighter than anything you've had all season. Don't worry, we'll all get back to crying tears of happiness over Holiday pies and pork roasts soon enough - so seize the opportunity to savor a meal that doesn't trigger more memories than your cinnamon-soaked brain (and insides) can handle right now.
Ya feel me?