When you move to California (having never even visited before), you falsely feel like you have some sense of the place. TV and movies promise palm trees, sunshine, and surfers. While I knew I was moving to Northern California and not San Diego, I was still surprised our first morning here (in August no less), that I needed to pull on a sweatshirt to go search out a local coffee shop. I always find myself explaining to friends and relatives back home that my part of California is
usually always 67 degrees. Even in August. Even in November.
So this weekend was a beautiful surprise. Temperatures were in the 70s (which is a difference you notice when your body temperature has become perfectly calibrated to 67 degrees). The sun burned through the clouds and the fog by 9AM. Our backyard (which appears to be a microclimate that is always the hottest place in all of Berkeley) was toasty and beautiful. My neighbor and I even summoned the wrath of the weather gods and went out to buy lounge chairs on Saturday afternoon. We were convinced that doomed us to a cool and cloudy Sunday, but when the next morning rolled around it was sunny and even warmer than the day before.
(the perfect spot to spend a weekend afternoon)
Something else you don’t expect when you move from Boston? The public pools in California? They’re all outdoors. Outdoors! I was so confused the first time I took myself to the pool to go swimming. The pool I went to in Boston was in the basement of a middle school. You had to navigate a hallway of red lockers pulled onward by the overpowering stench of chlorine to swim. While I’ve found myself missing the middle school basement on dark mornings at 5:30AM when it’s raining outside, generally the outdoor pool phenomenon is a home run. Especially during a warm and sunny weekend.
On the way back from the pool I’d practically convinced myself it was summer. As I ran through a litany of possible lunch options, I quickly discarded them all. Nothing seemed appropriate for this temporarily unseasonal day. I’d nearly convinced myself that a PB&J and a glass of milk would solve my nostalgic need to celebrate summer in April. Then I remembered that I had planned to make Jenna’s Kale Salad with Oranges, Almonds and Avocado later in the week. Clearly this was a summery salad!
I needed ingredients though, so I headed to the grocery store. I’m sure my residual chlorine perfume helped me cut through the crowds. While in Berkeley Bowl, I saw some flake coconut and had a brilliant idea. I’d been meaning to make Heidi’s Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut. So I decided to mash together the two recipes, and this citrusy coconut mash up of a salad was born.
Kale Coconut Salad
This recipe makes one large salad, perfect for enjoying in a lounge chair on a summer day.
- 1 medium orange (how to supreme an orange), and reserved juice
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened flake coconut
- 5 large Tuscan kale leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- salt and pepper (just a pinch of each)
- 2 tablespoons maple cinnamon almonds (you can make your own using Ashley’s recipe)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- While the oven is heating, supreme the orange over the bowl you intend to eat the salad in. Catch all the juice in the bowl, and when you are doing cutting up the orange, squeeze the remaining pulp and membrane to get all the juice out. Set the orange segments aside.
- Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. Watch this closely as the coconut will burn very quickly.
- Remove the stems from the kale leaves and roughly chop them.
- To the bowl containing the orange juice add the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Whisk the salad dressing together.
- Add the kale to the salad dressing and massage the dressing into the kale. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Garnish with orange segments, toasted coconut, and maple cinnamon almonds.