How in sam hill do you keep coming up with food and recipe ideas, Ally? This question I get asked quite often. There’s a couple of answers to it. First of all, I like to change up things all the time. Yes, I like tradition and not messing up a good thing. But, it’s very much in my personality and DNA to always be looking for new ways to do things. Maybe that’s the creative right side of my brain. I mean, whether it’s what I wear, how my furniture is arranged, a tablesetting and where I put the eating utensils or repurposing leftovers, my mind works in overdrive thinking of new ways to do regular things.
You know what that does? It makes life interesting. Sometimes Ben will come home to an entirely newly laid out living room. Furniture all moved. Different throw pillows on the sofa. Maybe a table that was in a bedroom and it’s now in the living room. Would that drive you crazy? For me, it’s a way of keeping my life invigorated and happier.
Another way I come up with food and recipe ideas is to travel. You have to get out of your comfortable landing pad of life and venture out. Even if it’s a few miles down the road to a new restaurant, store, park, whatever. This recipe is inspired by a recent trip to Central Mississippi to explore the ‘culinary innovations’ there. You might be thinking, ‘Central Missississippi and culinary cutting edge doesn’t seem to jive.’ But, au contraire, there’s more than meets the eye. I explain it all here.
When I was there visiting ‘Up in Farms’ described as ‘a movement in food’ I was impressed by the passion and dedication to the small and mid-sized farmer. We well know that farming isn’t something one does to get rich. It’s usually done, particularly at that small to mid range level, because of family tradition, a reason/purpose, and pureTEE love and passion. Started in 2014, what they do is aggregate food from about a 40 county area surrounding Jackson, MS into this central location. Then the dedicated folks work hard in the vintage warehouse washing, grading, packing cooling and storing fresh produce and selling it.
The farmers now have an outlet to compete with the big daddy farms who can afford these steps in getting produce to market. I saw some of the freshest most beautiful bounty in the boxes. I knew it was real food. Chemical free. And grown with love. It’s inspired me to create this ‘farm hub market salad’! I can tell you it gets RAVE reviews from my food seekers. Repeatedly at the dinner table where it was served, everyone remarked over and over, ‘Man, this salad is so good!’ Amazing what freshness of ingredients, healthy food and love do to feed the soul. xoxo ~ally
- 2 cups baby bokchoy, sliced
- 2 cups kale, Tuscan (dinosaur) sliced thinly (remove spine of leaf, roll leaf into a ‘cigar’ and slice thinly)
- 2 cups broccoli flowerettes
- 1 cup cucumbers, diced (use small cukes with edible skins, not large cukes with tough waxy skins)
- 1 cup corn, previously frozen or fresh and cut from cob (cooked)
- ½ cup almonds, slivered
- ½ cup dried mangoes, diced
- ¼ cup parmesan reggiano
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the bokchoy, kale, broccoli, cucumbers, corn, almonds, mangoes and parmesan. Mix and blend with your hands.
- In a small bowl combine the lemon juice/zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk and blend. Drizzle on the salad. Toss and blend. Refrigerate about an hour before serving.
I sure hope you can find dried mangoes. They have a tang to them that just makes this salad sing. Plus, I loved the vibrant orange color.
Of course, if you like you could use another dried fruit. It's intended to give that subtle taste of sweet that offsets the savory and some of the slightly 'bitter' (ever so slight I say) in the kale.
I opted to use fresh corn on the cob, which I roasted on the outdoor grill, cooled and then cut from the cob. Coat the ears with cooking spray. Some salt and pepper. Grill on about 450 degrees, turning several times, for about 15-20 minutes. Remove. Cover with foil or a lid and let it cool/steam.