Well, this is embarrassing. It’s the third week of 2013 and I’m still trying to figure out my New Year’s resolutions. Oh, and apparently I’ve been on a how-did-it-get-to-be-a-month-since-my-last-post hiatus from my blog. I’m really sorry about that. I was Christmassing, and then I was sick, and then I was visitng Portland and meeting my new niece, and then it was New Years, and then suddenly it was 2013 and I was back at school. How does that happen?
Back to resolutions: A couple of weeks ago I had some friends over and they shared their resolutions with me. Some had big expectations that would unfold over the year with one step building on the next. Others preferred to reinforce simple thoughts–“trust myself.” Some approached the year having given thought and reflection to what they wanted out of it whereas others didn’t invest much energy into it at all. Resolution or not, a common theme was that everyone was looking forward to a brighter year ahead.
Truth be told, I love developing new resolutions or goals, creating a plan to see them through, and then watching them unfold. For this very reason, January is one of my favourite months of the year. It’s a blank slate. There’s freshness in the air and the year is filled with such hope and possibility. Ironically, although I get excited for time where I can start anew, I also find it to be completely overwhleming. I mean, when the world feels like it’s filled with SO MUCH possibility, what does one focus on? Yes, this is a real problem that I have. It’s embarrassing. I just don’t wanna screw it up. So I’m slowly, organically, taking my time trying to feel my way into what I really want to get out of this year.
In December, I saw a post on Facebook that suggested starting the year with an empty jar and filling it with notes about good things that happen. At the end of the year, we’ll have a jar of wonderful day-to-day and unique memories to reflect upon. If next year is anything like this year, I expect to read things like, “I’m grateful for a partner who gifts me with unwavering support,” and “I’m grateful for the joy that a particularly sweet, snuggly creature brings me every day,” and “I’m grateful for the amazing dinner my sister cooked up for my Dad’s birthday party.” Oh, and I can’t forget this one: “I’m grateful that people are reading my blog!” True story.
I recently wrote one that said, “I’m grateful for making and eating this fantastic salad.” Let’s not forget about the small pleasures! It’s easy to make, it’s show-stoppingly beautiful, it’s filled with seasonal ingredients, and it’s delicious. The peppery arugula, the perfectly sweet sweet potato, the salty, creamy feta, the crunchy hazelnuts, and the bright pomegranate arils combine to make a this salad your main attraction. I hope that you’ll try it and be grateful too.
Sweet Potato, Arugula & Pom Salad
(Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side)
– Salad –
2 large bunches of arugula, washed and trimmed (or one 5oz container, like this)
4 small sweet potatoes (about a pound), cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
Half of a pomegranate, seeded (This is how like I do it because it spares the juice.)
Heaping 1/4 cup of raw hazelnuts
70g (1/2 cup) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
– Dressing –
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove, crushed garlic
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Toss the sweet potato pieces in grapeseed oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Spread them evenly over a rimmed baking sheet and roast approximately 20 minutes (or until tender), giving them a shake half way through. Once they’re ready, set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium-low heat. Cook the hazelnuts in the pan for 4-7 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from the heat when the nuts are fragrant and browned. Allow them to cool and then roughly chop. I consume the skins on for the health benefits and also because I’m too darn lazy to take them off.
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
To assemble the salad, place a bed of arugula into a large bowl and toss in the remaining ingredents (sweet potato, pom arils, feta cheese, and toasted hazelnuts), keeping some aside for garnish. Top with the dressing and then gently toss the salad with your bare hands, using your fingers to ensure even distribution. This method is much gentler on the tender greens. When the salad components are all dressed, top with remaining garnishes and eat up the deliciousness.
*Note: As with any of my recipes, feel free to play around with it to your liking. If you don’t like hazelnuts, try walnuts. A firm, ripe cheese like parmesan would be a great replacement for the feta. You can also vary that quantities of each of the salad components to your liking.