Yesterday, we floated in dense heat like waterless jellyfish. Slow. Damp. Swells of sleepy air pulled us under. Mark Sandman's voice dripped in the background, Like Swimming. Too hot to care about food, we snacked on carrots dipped in sunflower seed butter and frozen blueberries until the apex of humidity rose and then fell with a mid-afternoon shower. Billowy air, at last.
I opened the refrigerator door and discovered several packages of leftovers with renewed interest. Sauteed kale, apples, and scallions. Steamed sweet potatoes. Cooked forbidden rice.
A no-fuss summer salad. I tossed the ingredients with a few drops of toasted sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds and sprinkled flaky sea salt over the top. My appetite had returned and for a brief moment I toyed with the idea of gently heating the salad and topping it off with a poached or fried egg, but reconsidered when I sampled a bite. Chewy. Sweet. Green. Cool.
Forbidden Rice and Kale
Yield: About 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cups cooked forbidden rice
6 scallions (chopped)
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
1 apple (peeled, cored, and cubed)
1 bunch of kale, curly or tuscan (stems removed and chopped)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted)
a few drops of toasted sesame oil
sea salt, to taste
optional: 4 poached or fried eggs
Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Stir often to toast evenly and remove from heat when the seeds begin to pop and smell nutty. Be careful not to burn them.
In a medium saucepan, add a few inches of water, a steamer basket, and sweet potatoes. Steam about 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, yet not falling apart, when pierced with fork tines.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add scallions, apples, and steamed sweet potatoes and cook about 5 minutes to soften apples and incorporate flavors. Add kale and stir frequently for even heat distribution. Cook until kale begins to wilt and is still bright green. Taste as you cook, the kale is ready when it has a succulent, sweet flavor. Remove from heat.
Stir in cooked rice to the mixture. Add sesame oil, seeds, and sea salt. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve in bowls, warm or cold. Optional: For a warm dish, top with a poached or cooked egg.
(This recipe was inspired in part by Heidi Swanson's (101 Cookbooks) Poached Eggs Over Rice).