In Ayurveda, we seek to include all six tastes in our meals in an order that matches the process of digestion and ensures optimal breakdown, absorption, and wellness. I have seen many clients and students overcome chronic digestive discomfort simply through the wise sequencing of the six tastes.
For balance and health, our meals begin with the sweet taste, include some salt, sour, pungent, and follow with astringent and bitter. Salad greens offer some combination of the astringent and bitter taste, so following your main course with a salad is not only trés European, it is trés Ayurveda!
Which brings me to Christmas. Our Christmas Dinner will include a Winter Greens Salad with a lovely mass of color, and delightful bursts of tangy astringent and woody bitter flavors. We will pair it with Rogue Creamery’s Oregon Blue Cheese made from raw milk drawn from grass-fed cows. It’s an update on tradition and a tasty delight.
Mesclun of fresh Farmer’s Market Greens
4-5 Spring Onions, chopped
1 cup dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Pepitas
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
Toss ingredients together in a bowl and serve with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette.
Whisk together vinegar, garlic, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then whisk in oils in a slow stream until emulsified. Toss greens with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper.
This Sunday we are going to celebrate the opening of our friend’s new Yoga Studio in Old Town Temecula. The studio will be called “Sacred Journey” after the sacred journey of healing our friend experienced in Yoga Teacher Training.
As it is a Potluck, I am bringing a dish that seems to make, foodwise, a sacred journey of its own from Thanksgiving to Christmas. As a “Stuffing,” it keeps Thanksgiving alive ~ after all, why should Thanksgiving, with its aromatic feast and endless gratitude, have to end? But with its redolent chestnuts and figs, it introduces us to the flavors of Christmas.
In London, where I lived for so many years, the dim, foggy streets not only came alive with holiday lights in December but with that distinct old world aroma of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Years prior, I lived in Italy, where figs were our cherished Christmas presents. So this is a recipe that captures my heart as it recalls flavors and dishes and times and places and dear friends from the sacred journey of my own life.
My sister sent me this recipe from the New York Times. I used ghee instead of butter, added golden raisin and upped the amount of figs to a full cup. My family has asked me to make it for Christmas dinner, when I will also add 2/3 cup of cranberries for that great seasonal color and the tart that goes pop in the mouth, as well as 1/3 cup hazelnut pieces for an occasional crunch.
If you don’t eat eggs, use an egg substitute from your local grocer, or look under “Blogroll” on the right for the link to the Vegan Society’s web page for egg alternatives that are easy to make at home.
Thanks to Jennifer and to the NYT, and most of all to Daniel Humm, Executive Chef at Eleven Madison Park, for sharing your recipe.
Brioche Stuffing with Chestnuts and Figs
1/2 loaf of brioche
1/2 cup ghee
1/2 cup celery, medium fine dice
1/2 cup fennel, medium fine dice
1/4 cup Fiji apple, medium fine dice
1 cup onion, medium fine dice
1 pound Vegetarian Sausage, finely diced
2/3 cup Glazed Chestnuts, medium fine dice
2/3 cup dried figs, medium fine dice
1/3 cup reduced (syrupy) vegetable stock
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram leaves, chopped
1 pinch garam masala (or allspice)
2 teaspoons ground pepper
Dice brioche into a medium–fine dice and allow to dry in a low oven or overnight at room temperature. Once dry, you will have about 2 cups total.
Melt 1/4 cup ghee in a sauté pan. Sweat the celery, fennel, apple and onion until translucent and soft. (“Sweating” vegetables means slowly cooking them over low heat until soft but not brown.)
In a second sauté pan, melt the remaining ghee and cook sausage gently. Combine the butter and sausage with the diced brioche, celery and onion mixture, chestnuts, figs, reduced stock and stock in a large bowl and toss gently. Season with salt to taste. Gently add eggs and toss to combine. Finish with chopped herbs, spices and pepper.
Bake in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish at 350 for 40 minutes or until browned and hot throughout.