Blood Orange and Avocado Salad with a Citrus Tahini Dressing and Salty Pistachios

I told myself at the beginning of the year that Brent and I were going to spend less time on the house, and more time traveling, and here we are, almost 2 months into 2016 and instead of booking an all-inclusive trip to Turks and Caicos, we have decided to remodel our kitchen. My 20-year-old self would be really disappointed. It's funny how things change.

When we moved into our house roughly 2 years ago, we decided on certain things that needed to be changed immediately for our sanity, and things we could deal with until we saved up enough money and/or had time to deal with. In the *things that need to be changed now* category - remove the giant outhouse looking bathroom from the rear of our house (almost complete). Replace the janky mailbox that's positioned so close to the driveway it's hard not to miss (done). Replace the exterior doors and locks with fancier ones (I have a thing for door hardware). Paint the walls (still in progress). Spider-proof the house (done).

Now that the bathroom remodel is finally coming to an end and all other tasks are complete, we have decided that this year we would really love to give our kitchen a makeover, and I couldn't be more excited!!! The kitchen is my workspace and I spend roughly half the day in there, so it seems appropriate to spend a little extra money to make it magical. This is how I am justifying it to myself.

Our kitchen was remodeled in 2007. It's not a bad kitchen, it's just slightly outdated. Our countertops are a brown/black/beige speckled granite concoction. Our kitchen faucet is the standard bottom of the line Home Depot special. Bronze in color, it matches our cabinet hardware, which no matter how many times I tighten, always spin within a couple of days. Our cabinets are some sort of red/orange material, possibly cherry. Our hardwood floor is also a similar color to the cabinets, and because our main level is an open concept, it looks like the floors just continue right up to the wall.

I'm more of a cool color girl - greys and blues. It's been pretty challenging thus far trying to paint our house with off-white/pink trim (which match the red floor nicely). Probably the reason I've been so indecisive with paint the last two years.

I have decided that I am also going to paint the trim a nice bright white to freshen up the place. I am pretty sure it's going to take me the whole year, and I am going to lose my mind half way through, but my life wouldn't be complete if I wasn't adding unnecessary stressors to my day.

To balance life out a bit, I like to keep my meals really easy, especially lunch, and this salad is just about the most low-maintenance high vibe nutritionally dense lunches I've made in weeks. Tahini! Last year, I didn't get it. I was like - ya, I know its an important part of hummus, but why is everyone going so crazy over tahini? And then I had the most amazing rice bowl at a little lunch spot in Thunder Bay Ontario, with the most intensely flavorful tahini dressing, and I was sold. Since then, I've been experimenting with the flavor and I find that I'm most comfortable using it in dressings for salads and bowls, but I am quite excited to experiment with it in other ways. If you've got suggestions, I'd love to hear.

This salad is a compilation of some of the most vibrant and colorful produce available in the dreary month of February. I figure we might as well take advantage of things that are doing and looking their best right now while we gear up and prepare ourselves for summer berries! The base of the salad if a combination of Lacinato kale and romaine lettuce. The hippie in me wants to be able to eat a big bowl of kale salad, but in reality, I much prefer it in a blend with other softer lettuces.

Avocados are so good and so cheap right now, I'm averaging one a day. High fives for breastfeeding babies and increased calorie needs. Blood oranges cut into segments with my new shiny Wusthof chef's knife, need I say more. So delicious and so satisfying. I threw in some pistachios for crunch and saltiness, but you could also sub in any other nut variety. The dressing is sweet and fresh, with citrus and tahini. I imagine it might also taste good with some garlic thrown in for spiciness. I made this salad a few days ago, and I was hoping to save half for Brent when he got home, but the next thing I knew, I ate the whole (two giant servings) by myself. I am out of control.

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makes two meal-sized salads

prep time: 20 minutes

cooking time: n/a

Dressing Ingredients

1 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tbsp canola oil or olive

1 tsp maple syrup or honey

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Salad Ingredients

1/2 bunch of Lacinato kale, chopped

1/2 head of romaine lettuce, chopped

1/2 orange pepper, thinly sliced

1 blood orange, segmented

1 avocado, sliced

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup salted pistachios

salt and pepper

Add all of the dressing ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine.

Wash and chop the veggies.

Remove the tough middle vein from the kale and discard. Chop the kale and romaine lettuce, and place into a large bowl. Toss with the dressing.

Add the sliced orange pepper, blood orange segments, sliced avocado, chopped green onions, and pistachios to the lettuce. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Serve.

Makes enough salad for two meal-sized portions.