To continue our theme of mindful eating and feeding ourselves with intention, we must talk about plating. We eat with our eyes first, it’s true. The eyes are second only to our nose before our mouth gets in there with a plate of food. The senses are designed to alert us as to whether or not something is edible. Survival skills at their most refined.
Considering plating a survival skill might seem a bit of a stretch, but the truth is it’s not too far off. We aren’t talking about super fussy fancy plating that adds hours to a dish. We are simply talking about making food look appetizing. One of our favorite gastronomes, Curnonsky, says it best: “In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection.” This couldn’t be more right. He also believes that real cuisine is when things taste like themselves. There is so much profundity in the concept of simplicity.
Eating well and beautifully doesn’t have to be complicated. If you are fortunate enough to have access to fresh, organic ingredients, do nothing more than treat them well and with respect. Just like you wouldn’t throw a new shirt in the washer and dryer on high speed and heat, treat your ingredients with thought, care, and prepare them in a way that maximizes their beauty and benefit.
You don’t have to be a gourmand to recognize that eating a fresh fluffy salad looks and tastes a lot better than mashed down wilted lettuce, or that a juicy hamburger is more exciting than a flat gray patty. On a biological level, we all like things that please our eyes and food is no different. Studies have shown that prettier food actually tastes better and is more satisfying. We found this article on the subject interesting.
A simple salad is a great way to start this practice of mindful plating.
Here is a beautiful winter recipe to get you started.
Winter Green Salad with Walnuts
- 1 large head kale, stalks removed and thinly sliced *
- 1⁄2 head Swiss chard, stalks removed and thinly sliced
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil or walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Pinch of salt
- 1 apple, cored and chopped or shaved on mandolin
- 1 cup Inca berries or golden raisins, chopped
* To make a good salad, it is essential to make sure you start with clean, dry leaves. A salad spinner is a great investment.
- 1⁄2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1⁄2 tablespoon olive oil or walnut oil
- l 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salad—Massage kale and Swiss chard with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to break down the fibers. Once the salad is wilted, toss in apple and Inca berries.
Walnuts—Toss walnuts with thyme, oil, salt, and pepper.
Assembly—Toss walnuts with salad. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme and walnuts, if desired.