recipes

New and Noteworthy

OUTRUNNING DESPAIR
In the novel Running the Rift, by Naomi Benaron, a young Tutsi runner in Rwanda dreams of competing in the Olympics even as political tensions erupt into unfathomable violence. A story that gives both horror and hope their due. Winner of the 2011 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Algonquin

FINALLY, A “CHRISTMAS UNICORN”
Perpetually quirky indie artist Sufjan Stevens’ new 58-track, 5-EP Christmas collection Silver and Gold promises to offer “holly-jolly songs of hope and redemption.” Not your typical Christmas music, but who needs more of that anyway? Liner notes include essays by Stevens and Vito Aiuto of The Welcome Wagon. Asthmatic Kitty

ROYAL BEAUTY BRIGHT
The picture book Star of Wonder, written by Mary Lee Wile and illustrated by Sage Stossel, offers a charming retelling of the Nativity story. A companion website, www.starofwonderepiphany.com, includes crafts, activities, and music to include in family observations of Epiphany. Forward Movement

TASTE AND SEE
The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First-Century Fare, with Menus and Recipes, by Douglas E. Neel and Joel A. Pugh, tastily delivers on its title. Includes historical and cultural essays to entertain foodies and Bible buffs alike, plus more than 50 recipes. Rowman & Littlefield

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Salad Days

For salad lovers this is a heady time of year, with early cucumbers, flawless carrots, and more varieties of lettuce and greens than a person can shake a salad fork at. Best of all, budding in the back of the mind, is the promise of tomatoes just around the corner.

Perhaps I should say this is an easy time of year

to make a salad, rather than a good time. Because with an expanded notion of what constitutes a salad, no time of year is a bad one.

For instance, not long ago a relative served a pungent, juicy grated beet and onion salad, my first inkling that beets could be eaten raw. Another shocker was a newspaper recipe for an Italian salad calling for bread as its base ingredient. (I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s a fascinating idea.)

My tired concept of a three-bean salad was revived last winter when I sampled a spicy black bean salad with corn, red pepper, parsley, and walnuts. It was so good, I began looking out for recipes using grains and legumes as salad material. "Lentil and Chickpea," "Apricot Walnut Wheatberry," and "Tomato Quinoa" are some of the gleanings.

BECAUSE FREQUENT exposure has dulled people’s enthusiasm for so-called "rabbit food," the cook’s job is to add an element of surprise to the salad bowl. Try daikon radish—a long, white root—instead of the red variety. Add a fresh herb, such as basil, to the greens. Sprinkle toasted nuts on top. Use spinach instead of lettuce. Make homemade croutons.

Experiment freely with different salad dressings. I usually serve one tried-and-true dressing such as a Ranch style, along with an experimental one so I won’t offend someone not enthused about an odder flavor (odder flavor being something such as orange-sesame, honey-mustard, sherry vinaigrette, or hot bacon).

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Sojourners Magazine June 1994
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