A few days ago a baby gecko was darting about the kitchen. It was the size of my pinky finger and the colour of pearl. I caught it in my cupped hands and showed it to W, who stared at it with a mixture of fascination and uncertainty. I let it crawl up her leg so she could feel its tiny little feet. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more – me or W. The gecko was probably scared shitless.
These days I’m making a conscious effort to block out the noise. I’m re-teaching myself how to be still, how to be observant, a skill I’ve let lie fallow these past few years. When I’m breastfeeding in the middle of the night, or walking someplace in the morning, instead of reaching for my phone I take a deep breath and let my mind wander. Not about what needs doing or what I could be doing, but about the feel of the sun on my skin, or the colour of the bright green grasshoppers that have suddenly appeared everywhere.
Sitting in silence is a rare occurrence nowadays. There are so many avenues for stimulation – I always have my phone in my pocket, the interwebs at my fingertips, there are iPads and computers and books all around the house. Not to mention the simple fact that noise is everywhere in my life. Two children (one of whom is a toddler) makes for constant action, plus the fact that Brisbanites love their electric gardening tools (don’t get me started on how much a hate leaf blowers) and that we live in the middle of a city, makes for a pretty ongoing soundtrack.
But what’s the rush? I love being busy and making and doing, but every now and then it’s worth taking the time to sit in silence, and to play with baby geckos.
Today is overcast, heavy grey clouds and a spattering of rain. This salad is a wonderful one for the cooler days. The kale stands up well to the sweetness of the roasted veges, the sunflower seeds bring the crunch and the goji berries a hint of tartness and colour. The real star though is the miso-tahini dressing – creamy, tangy, strong without being overbearing. While the veges are roasting throw everything else together and you’ve got a wonderful bowl for lunch, or a perfect side salad for dinner.
Autumn Salad with Tahini-Miso Dressing
5 – 6 kale leaves
2 medium-sized carrots
500 grams pumpkin
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil, to cook
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp miso paste
1/2 tbsp brown rice syrup (or honey)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 – 2 tbsps water
Heat oven to 200° celsius/400° fahrenheit. Chop the pumpkin and carrots into large chunks, toss with a generous glug of olive oil, a dash of salt & pepper, and spread into an even layer on a baking tray. Roast for approx. 45 minutes, until softened and starting to caramelise.
In the meantime, remove the hard stem from the kale and finely chop the leaves. Juice half of the lemon and massage the kale leaves with the juice in a large bowl.
Dry-toast the sunflower seeds in a pan over a medium-high heat, tossing frequently for approx. 3 – 5 minutes, until the seeds turn golden and fragrant. Set aside.
Prepare the dressing by combining the tahini, miso paste, syrup, lemon juice, and 1 tbsp water in a small jar. Whisk together, adding the additional water if too thick.
Add the roasted veges to the kale along with the toasted sunflower seeds and goji berries. Just before serving pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine.
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side dish
Notes: dress just before eating, and if you have leftover dressing it will keep in the fridge for a few days and is delicious over grain salads, or stirred through soba noodles and veges.