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What a week it’s been!

The S.O. and I came back from eight days in the Carolinas last Thursday.  Weary from a miserable flight, we wanted only to shower and go to bed.  But when we opened the door to our house, it felt like opening an oven.  A faulty circuit breaker — which took out our air conditioning and half the lights in the house on one of those summer weeks that’s 92°F at midnight — put the kibosh on our arrival-home relaxation plans.

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Of course, the timing couldn’t have been worse.  It was the Thursday before the Fourth of July weekend, and Friday was the observed holiday, so we couldn’t hire an electrician until Monday.  Thankfully our bags were already packed, so we settled in to a hotel for the weekend.  But on top of our Carolinas trip, we spent 11 consecutive nights in a hotel.  I missed my pillow dearly.  But I missed my kitchen even more.  Sick of restaurant food, and disappointed about having to scrap my Fourth of July baking plans, I craved a home-cooked meal.

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So one evening, we assembled some delicious roast turkey and provolone sandwiches on a rustic, crusty bread, spread with the S.O.’s homemade Russian dressing.  I made this sweet-tart, and ever-so-refreshing black cherry, kale, and brown rice salad to go alongside.  The simplicity and the love we put into this meal made it this the most comforting meal I’d had in a long time.  So I’m excited to share this salad with you.

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The beauty of this salad is its bright flavor.  Lime and almond are two of my favorite flavors to pair with cherries, and they work beautifully in this salad with fleshy, sweet-sour black cherries.  The agave is subtly sweet, allowing the lime to punch through.  Brown rice adds an unusual creaminess and a hearty feel.  And the crunchy kale is, as always, a delight.

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This is a salad I’ll make at home — even when I’m not confined to a hotel room makeshift kitchen.  But, I’ve written this recipe for anyone who finds themselves in a pinch or with limited cooking supplies.  All you need to assemble this salad is a zip-top bag, knife, cutting board (though you could make do without one), and a drinking straw or chopstick to pit the cherries.  You may be able to borrow a lot of these supplies from your hotel’s breakfast bar if you ask nicely enough.  I used microwaveable brown rice, although you can certainly prepare the rice in stockpot or rice cooker as available.

Even Maddox wanted in on the salad action.

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Black Cherry, Kale, & Brown Rice Salad

Makes 6-8 servings | Cook time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 C black cherries
  • 1 C cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 C sliced almonds

Directions

  1. Rinse kale and pat dry.  Remove stems, then slice leaves into thin ribbons.
  2. Place chopped kale into zip-top bag, then add olive oil, agave, lime juice, and salt to bag.  Shake bag to distribute ingredients evenly onto kale, then massage ingredients in to kale.
  3. Remove stems and pits from the cherries, then quarter them.  Add to kale.
  4. Let brown rice cool to a lukewarm temperature after cooking, break it up, then add to kale and cherries.
  5. Shake bag to combine ingredients well.
  6. Garnish with sliced almonds when serving.

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