During the month of Kislev, which begins later this week, we celebrate Chanukah. The most obvious food of this holiday and month is oil, the miracle ingredient. During Chanukah, some women recite the story of Judith, a heroine who used salt as a weapon. “Legend has it that Judith fed the enemy general Holofernes salty foods to make him thirsty for wine. As he lay in a drunken stupor she was able to slay him, thus saving Jerusalem from siege.”
A symbol of Kislev is keshet (rainbow). During Kislev, when the flood waters receded, a rainbow appeared in the sky and God told Noah, “I will keep my covenant with you and your descendants…and never again will a flood destroy all life. . . . I have put my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Myself and the world. “
The recipe I created for Kislev uses lots of salt and olive oil but it is not another recipe for latkes! Since Kislev is celebrated during a dark, cold time of year, I offer a dish whose brightness will counter the damp weather and provide lots of nourishing ingredients. It is a salty and oily salad made with an array of bright foods, symbolic of the rainbow, with pieces cut into arches.
Indeed, eating a rainbow of foods is not only good for one’s health, but critical for sustainable agriculture. As part of our covenant with God, we are required to protect Creation. We can be inspired by Noah, the first seed saver and protector of biodiversity. Our agricultural practices–what and how we grow–are critical to environmental sustainability. Indeed, monocropping, lack of biodiversity in seeds, and use of chemicals and fertilizers endanger our food supplies and environment. Such practices remove critical nutrients from soil, leave crops vulnerable to disease (think of the Irish potato famine) and undermines the genetic diversity of our food supply.
Kislev: Oil and Salt Rainbow Salad
1 head of lettuce, washed and torn
10 pitted olives, chopped into pieces
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1 persimmon, chopped into quarters
1/2 orange, peeled and chopped into quarters
3 pieces of stale bread
5-6 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
optional: sea salt
optional: juice of remaining half of orange
1. Wash the lettuce and tear into pieces.
2. Soak in olive oil (about 3-4 tbsp total) and then cut into pieces. Place on tray in toaster oven at 375 degrees. Bake until crispy, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
3. In a serving bowl, add 2 tbsp olive oil to the bottom. (I just learned this tip to help better coat the lettuce in oil.) Add lettuce and mix well with oil. Add olives, capers, permission, orange, sunflower seeds and bread pieces to lettuce. Mix well.
4. Add freshly ground pepper. Taste to decide if salt should be added. Option to add the juice of the remaining half orange. Mix well and serve.