What if I told you that with a thin coat of salt and some respectful fondling, stiff raw vegetables (including those that are a strain to chew and then digest) will snap and relax like glow sticks?
Their turgidity will release; they’ll loosen up. They’ll settle into a salad that’s appealingly crunchy, with the perfect dressing—except that you'll have only added one thing.
That's how I reacted when Sarah Britton—the guiding light of My New Roots—mentioned the macrobiotic tradition of pressed salad, made of just vegetables and an elemental seasoning, on a recent Facebook Live segment.
Then again, why was I surprised? Sarah's the queen of extracting wild results from humble—some may say homely—ingredients. She made a comforting risotto out of sunflower seeds and an irresistible whole grain bread without flour.
Macrobiotic pressed salads, the next in Sarah's oeuvre of vegetable transformations, lie somewhere between bouncy slaws and a slumped sauerkrauts, and offer the deliciousness and freedom that their name might not immediately suggest.
In her new book, Naturally Nourished, Sarah explains that lightly salting vegetables makes them easier to digest and eat, while still maintaining their inherent good-for-you qualities, and shares a recipe for a confetti of a salad made from kale, red cabbage, carrot, sweet potato, fennel, red onion, apple, and ginger, topped with herbs, sesame, salt, and lemon.
I used this model and went forth with three different pressed salads (the freedom!):
Radish rounds + shredded radicchio + thinly sliced red onion + apple slivers + grated ginger + black sesame seeds
Yellow beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes cut into matchsticks + squeeze of lemon
Cucumber in half-moons + grated green cabbage + thinly sliced fennel + thinly sliced celery + grated ginger + cilantro
The dressing is inessential (the vegetables flavor themselves!), but you could serve it with one or many embellishments, including:
So the next time you meet a stiff salad with unfriendly vegetables, smack 'em with saltiness. They'll loosen up.
Tell us: What are you turning into a pressed salad first?
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