Of my many food memories, a few stand out as truly formative. One such memory was a visit to a magical Japanese restaurant. Fully equipped with waitresses in kimonos and special dining rooms made private by paper screens, I was instantly enamored. So much so that my mother tells me my favorite imaginary character for a long time was a Japanese waitress, shuffling in socks and flip flops to the table to take orders and clear away plates. And while the sushi was wonderful, it was the tiny dish of spinach salad in sesame dressing that was a revelation. Seemingly so simple, but deeply complex in flavor, it has since been one of my favorite dishes. Over time I have used a variety of ingredients from brown rice vinegar, to sake and tahini with a touch of hot sauce. But this time, working my way through the towering bowl of clementines we seem to always have, I decided to add some citrus. And rather than eating a tiny bowl as a side, I often make this salad a platform for any number of other ingredients. My favorite pairing is avocado, toasted almonds and a protein of sorts- leftover roasted chicken or steak or some baked tofu. —savorthis
1/4 cup dressing
bunch kale, spinach or chard
2 1/2 teaspoons
soy or tamari
rice vinegar (brown rice vinegar is equally good, just a bit sweeter)
You can use the greens raw, but when using kale I will usually blanch it for a minute in boiling water, then shock it in ice water. Chop greens and set aside.
Gently toast sesame seed in a dry pan until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind with sugar. I usually leave some seeds whole, grinding the rest to a sand consistency. Stir in vinegar, soy, 1 teaspoon zest and 1 tablespoon juice from orange.
I use a generous tablespoon for one cup of tightly packed greens. Toss together and eat as is or top with your favorite ingredients.