Satsuma, Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad

satsuma, red onion and pomegranate salad

I know I could write this post about our holidays—our first Christmas traveling to both Ohio and Chicago; our first year of giving gifts as a couple; our first Christmas stretching between two families because we are our now our own. I could tell you about all the food we ate—the amazing, high-quality, enjoyable meals of homemade braciole and fork-tender pot roast and filet mignon kabobs. I could tell you, the way I’ve told Tim, how humbling it is to be outgiven, the way we were by both our families, who generously, thoughtfully gave us with gifts far beyond our needs or expectations.

But the truth is, the only thing that keeps coming out when I try to write this post is something much more simple, something much less interesting or profound. It’s the thing I can’t stop thinking about lately, the reasoning behind purchases and lunches and a fridge stocked with greens:

I love salad.

satsuma

I know, I know, this isn’t the kind of revelatory factoid you want someone to drop on you at a dinner party. It doesn’t provoke much response or invite lengthy discussion. Salad is boring. What’s there to say about it? We eat salads before we do something interesting, like, say, have a chicken dinner. Yet nonetheless, I love it, I really do. I love the way I feel when I eat salad, particularly afterwards, so light and refreshed and, I don’t know, clean. I started craving it in the midst of our holidays, probably when my digestive system was so overloaded with back-to-back-to-back delicious meals that it didn’t know what to do with itself, and I’ve had one almost every day since.

And lately, there’s been one ingredient in particular I’ve been especially loving on my salads: pomegranates. Tim showed me how to harvest the seeds—arils, they’re called—and our local Aldi sells them for less than a dollar a piece, so we’ve had pomegranates on our salads like routine.

(Our method, if you’re curious, goes like this: cut off the tip of the fruit and carefully slice four or five indentations, top-to-bottom around, as if you’re cutting it into wedges. In a bowl filled with water, separate those chunks under water and pull apart the seeds. Everything but the seeds floats to the top and can be discarded; the water can be strained. Once you get the hang of it, it takes 10 to 15 minutes. And in the end, you have a bowl full of juicy red jewels to enjoy.)

separating pomegranate seedsstraining pomegranate seeds

pomegranate arilspomegranate arils

On Sunday, for our weekly dinner with friends, which this week fell on New Year’s Day, we brought the salad pictured in this post, one that combined pomegranates with sweet satsumas and thin pieces of red onion.

assembling the salad

I love how colorful it looks, how reminiscent of other seasons, the kinds filled with flowers and farmers markets, and I love how it pairs different flavors and textures: crunchy pomegranate seeds that burst into juice, sweet citrusy satsumas, spicy red onions.

satsuma red onion pomegranate salad

Oh salad. There’s just nothing like it. And while you could say it’s just that crazy salad love talking, after three helpings, I could have had more.

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this shell (POM-banana smoothie)

skies

It is the strangest thing to look at the shell of a person, the body without the soul, and to comprehend how someone could be here and then, not here at all. I spent some time thinking about that this last weekend, surrounded by people who were bonded only by the shell we were standing near, the shell of someone who had lived long and with infectious charm.

I’m thinking about it now as I type, the fingers of this body punching keys on a keyboard, forming words chosen by my mind, my thoughts, my sense of reason and understanding. Someday, these fingers won’t type, my body will cease to work, the breath of life will be puffed out of me but, what is inside of me—what is most me—that will never die, that will just move somewhere else. I will move somewhere else.

POM

Right now, as I’m typing, I’m sitting next to a window, feeling with my body the slight chill of the air outside that leaks through into this room. I can hear the buzzing of someone mowing grass. I can see clouds streaking the sky through the window. These days, there are signs of life all around me—green lawns, budding branches, even new babies being born. There is that paradox: all around us, death and life. Here then gone. Alive then not.

Saturday, I made this easy smoothie, part POM Wonderful and part frozen banana, and slurped it down to the bottom, drank every sweet and icy bit until I felt it go down deep and chill me, too.

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take it with you

pretty and pink

At the end of some weeks, what you really need is a pretty pink drink, you know?

It’s not that this past one hasn’t been good—filled with kind people, strangers who felt like friends, unexpected work and unexpected rest—it has. In fact, like I could tell you about most of my life, it’s been filled with grace—that which I don’t deserve but which finds me, when I need it, when my strength is not enough, sent in the form of family who comes when you need them, people who pray, phone calls with old friends and, candied sweet potatoes from Boston Market late at night.

But it’s also been a little harder than I’d expected say, Monday afternoon, when I’d jotted down my to-do list of tasks for the night, none of which would end up being accomplished. So, just between us, I’m glad it’s Friday again, I’m glad I’ve cleared my schedule for tomorrow and, you know, I’m glad I have something pretty and pink to hold in my hand.

This simple spritzer is a blend of pomegranate and lemon juices, mixed with sugar and made fizzy with club soda. The carbonation is important—it reminds me of the to-die-for sparkle tea I had last summer, when Sonja and I sweated through Lincoln Park on a hot July afternoon, and Argo Tea lured us inside with a free sample—it really ups the refreshment factor. In this drink, you blend everything, pour it all on top of ice and garnish with mint leaves, and voila: instant luxury.

And on the topic of things pretty and pink, I should tell you this recipe originates from Mia King, as published in her soon-to-be-released book, Table Manners, which not only sports a pink cover but is the literary version of a romantic comedy and an incredibly easy companion.

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