It is surprisingly hard to make a house feel like a home. I’ve been cooking more and actually using our kitchen, which has been helpful. We inadvertently had our first dinner guest last weekend–a friend of both of ours that I ran into while frantically trying to make it into a Starbucks for the last 10 minutes of Frappuccino happy hour (TM) (I know, I’m bad to the bone). We had plans for curry and there was a fresh case of beer in the fridge, so it was one of those last minute “Why not?” kind of things that feels easy to say yes to in the waning hours of a sunny weekend afternoon. I think setting a pace and mindset to have our people over for meals more often is what’s going to tip this living situation into certified home-dwelling territory.
So with that, my family’s coming by this weekend for a little dinner. I’m excited to make them a bunch of things I know they’ll love. There’ll be chocolate cream pie, some kind of panzanella, lots of vegetables, salt and vinegar grilled potatoes–all the good things really. My mum is here all the time helping me with any given project, so it’ll be nice to see her just sitting and relaxing at my table with a plate of food for once–and most especially on that pie. For a Mother’s Day thing, it’s great in the obvious ways, but I want to be doing this sort of gathering ’round more often. I’ve wrote here about how tough and motivated my mum is before, but in this noticeably busier season of life, her strength and inner drive has been particularly inspiring. Where I tend to get overwhelmed and start wondering what the point of it all really is, she pushes on, reminding me of the good graces in our day-to-day all the while.
So yeah! Looking forward to that lovely meal with my fingers crossed that the sun will shine. I’ve been craving fruit and having it with almost every meal lately. Maybe it’s those warmer temperatures? So this salad sprang to my mind. One of the better crumbles I’ve ever made featured a combination of rhubarb and mango (with coconut in the topping). It was great because the mango is a natural sweet answer to the sour, but it also has a fragrant, nectarous vibe that meshes seamlessly with rhubarb. So I was thinking of that and some other flavours I like with rhubarb–lime, ginger, almond etc–and thought that a mango salad with all of that going on might be just right. A few slices of kale, radish, mint and chives (from a newly transplanted beauty of a plant in my backyard, weee!) push this salad a little bit more into savoury land. Anyway, hoping this bowl full will make you think twice on that old strawberry and rhubarb routine :)
mango salad with rhubarb ginger dressing + chili almonds
notes: I know mango salads typically call for more of the greener/less ripe fruits, but I find sweetness is preferable on this one because of the sour dressing. So having said that, be careful cutting those slippery, somewhat ripe mangoes :)
rhubarb ginger dressing:
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup chopped rhubarb, pink parts only
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled + chopped
juice of 1 lime (+ a tiny bit of the zest/peel)
1-2 tsp maple syrup/agave nectar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 tsp chili powder (chipotle, ancho, whatever you’re into)
4 just-ripe mangos, peeled (I used ataulfo/champagne mangos)
5-6 leaves of kale, shredded/finely sliced
handful of chives, sliced
handful of mint leaves, sliced
1 large or 3 small radishes, thinly sliced
Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the rhubarb to the pan and toss it around a bit. Slowly sauté the rhubarb until it’s quite soft and cooked through. Transfer to a blender pitcher. Throw the ginger, lime juice/zest, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper into the blender as well. Blend the mixture until you have a smooth, thick dressing. Taste it and check for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and set aside.
Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat. Once they have a bit of colour and aroma happening, quickly dump them onto a cutting board and chop them up while they’re still warm. Once chopped, quickly toss them with the chili powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cut the mangos away from their pits and then proceed to slice them/cut the edible fruit into matchsticks. Toss the cut mango into a large bowl. To the bowl, also add the a sliced kale, chives, mint and sliced radishes. Pour the rhubarb ginger dressing over top and toss it all together. Garnish the salad with the chili almonds and serve.