24 July 2013

Massaged Chard Salad with Papaya

Switzerland is pricey, and to go along with it, some people's idea of customer service is not always what is provided or expected here. But there is a silver lining, and it comes by way of Thai massages. This ancient art of healing is guided by Buddhist principles that emphasize a 'compassionate intent of the healer', where value is placed on the therapist's awareness, concentration, and compassion for the customer. This level of service among Thai massage therapists has been consistent wherever I've been, regardless of the local culture of customer service. It's also a great value considering the benefits from a massage that blends triggering pressure points, deep tissue massaging, and stretching, all which help relieve tension and flush the body of toxins. Though I don't get a massage often, for me it's an important element of a holistic lifestyle, and one from which I really notice a difference in my body and state of mind.

On the nutritional front, this chard salad is a great complement to the detoxification and cleansing process jump started by a massage. It's a wonderful cleansing salad anytime, but I especially enjoy making it when I get a massage or after I come home from a trip and feel a need to reset my body's equilibrium. The chard, fennel, and papaya all have detoxifying properties, not to mention it's simply a feel-good salad that is well-rounded and satiating.

Swiss Chard
Sometimes I feel sorry for Swiss chard when it comes to massaged salads. Kale gets all of the attention in this department, but Swiss chard is just as worthy of getting a little massage and flaunting its deep green goodness.  In fact, when enjoyed raw it arguable has a smoother texture and more pleasing chew than kale, but its beauty is not just skin deep. This underrated green also provides antioxidant, blood sugar control, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying support, not to mention the very good supply of calcium and Vitamin K for bone health.

Massaged Chard Salad with Papaya
Serves 2 as a main (4 as a side)

1 large bunch Swiss chard (~ 1 lb/.5 kilo)
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lemon
1 Avocado, cut in small bite size pieces
1 Fennel, halved and thinly sliced with a mandolin or by hand
1/2 apple, halved and thinly sliced or cut into match sticks
1 small papaya (little larger than an avocado), halved and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. pine nuts (or sunflower seeds), toasted
Tahini dressing (recipe below)

Prepare the chard: Strip leaves from the stem, rinse under water, and dry. Stack leaves (may have to make 2 stacks) and roll up like a cigar, then thinly slice down to make chard ribbons. Alternatively you can tear the chard in small pieces.

Add chard, salt, and lemon juice to a large salad bowl. Massage the leaves for 30 seconds; you don't want the chard to break down too much.  Add fennel, apple, and avocado to the bowl, and pour over dressing. Toss gently, then add papaya and pine nuts and give it one more gentle stir to incorporate.  If desired, add a bit more lemon juice and another drizzle of olive oil to finish.

Tahini Dressing
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tsp. tahini paste
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. 

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