Curly Kale Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Freshman year of life is almost up.

Don’t be fooled by this nonchalant delivery; in fact I’m not nearly so matter-of-fact.

My one-year-out-of-college anniversary has snuck up on me with all the stealth of an off-the-grid fighter jet. Its wake has left me reeling, and only just able to begin diffusing the riot of emotions raging in my lower intestine.

I’m having trouble stomaching the fact that my allotted year of transition has virtually expired. Real Life is here; it’s no longer hung on a happily hazy horizon. This blazing bulletin has me swallowing thickly, again and again, in a futile fight against a rising tide of panic.

With a gulp, I can’t help but think that to fail now would mean something much, much, larger than a big fat “F” in Organic Chemistry. With a surge of indignation, I can’t help but think that there was no orientation for this. With a drop of horror, I can’t help but think that I didn’t arm myself with the right tools.

I succeeded at turning myself from a high school student into a college student largely in part by trading in my monogrammed L.L.Bean backpack for an understated and ubiquitous Longchamp bag. But I’m not confident in my ability to assume the uniform of a fully-fledged adult. And even if I knew where I could go about buying such a thing, I know I’m too old to be playing dress up.

When you’re feeling too young and too old, and completely stuck on a dead-end road, there’s only one way to proceed. With a nod to your college self [and your college staples], make a Nutella and banana sandwich. You can even call it cooking, if that’ll make you smile.

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This is not a time to be conservative with the creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread, or with the sugary sweet slices of banana. You need all the comfort you can squeeze between two pieces of bread. Nirvana is next.


Post-sandwich-or-two, I can almost promise that you’ll feel more motivated to kick yourself out of your comfort [carb] zone. When this happens, return your jar of Nutella to its hiding place [if you don’t hide Nutella from yourself, I don’t know if we can be friends].

Now you’re going to pull it together and make something very mature for dinner. It involves raw kale – currently the key ingredient to a grown-up salad. You’re going to have to toast some sesame seeds, a step which is decidedly not for the risk-averse [but which will have a big pay off in the end].

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This recipe also calls for julienned vegetables and a homemade dressing…but don’t you worry; this kind of sophistication is well within your reach.

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This salad will give you something to chew on, but the lingering lemon will make things feel lighter and brighter.

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Anyway, at least I discovered kale salads at the same time as I re-discovered Nutella and banana sandwiches. That has to be a step in the right direction.

Recipe [Serves 1]:


For the salad:

1 cup thinly sliced kale, stems removed

Handful of thinly sliced spinach

½ cup thinly sliced iceberg lettuce

1 cup pea shoots

1 cup generic slaw mix

¼ cup purple cabbage [mostly for color]

1 julienned carrot

1/4 julienned cucumber

10 g toasted walnuts

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

Fresh parsley to taste

For the dressing:

1½  tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon tahini

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch cayenne pepper

Method: Self explanatory [If only everything were so simple]   


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