Wilted Spinach Salad with Leeks, Fennel and Almonds

A few years back I planted leeks in the garden. They grew well; only never having planted leeks before I was uncertain when to pull them, so some sprouted bulbs and sent their seeds off to populate another crop.

Well, the babies sprouted everywhere. Since I hate to kill little baby plants I dug them up, gave bunches away, and painstakingly separated the rest and planted them. This tedious task took hours and I was skeptical about the value of my effort.

No more skepticism here! The leeks have given us wonderful treats all winter long. Now as we head into spring, they are beginning to get that look about them, as if they are going to send up a gorgeous flower, so I pulled them all. Not because I don’t want flowers and more baby leeks, but because I am TOTALLY addicted to crispy leeks!!

I have them in everything, if they make it to the dish, because I often sauté them in olive oil until crispy, add a little salt and they just disappear!

Since pulling them, I have a drawer full of leeks. I have also been on an upswing of creativity in the kitchen, instead of the rut I was in prior to the leek harvest. Tonight, I created an AMAZING dish. It was so yummy; I want to make it again. Maybe for breakfastJ! I thought I would send it on so you all could enjoy it as well.

Wilted spinach salad with leeks, fennel and almonds

  • 1 leek cut into thin rounds
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Half a bulb of fennel thickly shaved ¼ “
  • 1/3 c slivered almonds
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • ¼ c basil, chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed
  • ¼ lemon (or more to taste)
  • Pepper to taste

Pour 2 tbs. olive oil into a sauté pan (This amount is an estimate, as I rarely measure and have been accused at times of overusing both salt and olive oil. So feel free to add more if your leeks suck up the oil!).

Add leeks. Sauté over medium heat until they start to get crispy and separate about 3 minutes give or take depending on your heat and pan, add a sprinkle of salt.

Add another tbs. olive oil (this is part of your dressing) along with the fennel and almonds. Again, let them cook over medium heat until some of the fennel pieces and almonds are browned. Add another sprinkle of salt and the basil. Stir until combined and the basil starts to wilt, 30 seconds to a minute.

Turn heat off, add spinach and cover pan. Let spinach wilt. Once slightly wilted, mix to cover spinach with leek/fennel mixture. This should soften the rest of the spinach if not already wilted. Squeeze lemon over mixture. Stir. Add pepper to taste.

Enjoy! You may want to make a double recipe as it is hard to share!


Reclaim your power, shape your story

Today in Aikido, I had a glimpse of something that I have seen in the past. It is like seeing the matrix behind the everyday picture of life. Today I witnessed a spiral, my energy, direction, and motion moving in conjunction with another. As I said, it was only a glimpse, like a fleeting tail of a whale dipping below the surface of the water. You know you saw it, but did you?

In Aikido, the premise is to not fight, but to blend; to see with absolute curiosity and wonder another person’s motion toward you as energy to be blended with and transformed. In my life, I have been taught to fight for things, to dominate, to be on top. This was not consciously taught to me but as a byproduct of our cultural and familial conditioning. My father was in the Vietnam War in active combat during the Tet, he had to fight to survive. That fight was passed down from him to me and probably from our previous generations of farmers in Germany and Russia fighting for survival. This fight is in my psychobiology and rules my unconscious, automatic reactions.

For me, Aikido is reprogramming, reclaiming my power over my automatic reactions. It is a practice that encourages me to have fun, relax and move with another person’s offensive motion to create something that both protects me as well as them.

As I age, I realize more profoundly that I am not out here alone. Every action has an impact on other people, both physically, mentally and emotionally. The way I move in and through the world creates a wave of energy that moves out like ripples in a pond. I have a responsibility for this energy. If it is not a pleasant energy, a way of being that is sour, this will follow and precede me into life and it will shape how I see the world and interpret experiences. When I take care of myself and my energy, and move responsibly in the world, I tend to be more mindful in my interactions, and have a broader focus. As my energy precedes me in a spiral, slowly moving out from my center, it impacts the world positively.

When we are in a sour space we do not think that we can have an impact and this is part of the problem. It is often hard to be happy when we are unhappy. We get overwhelmed with our inability to change our current state. This creates a mood of defensiveness or protection because we are fragile when we want to but cannot change.

One way of shifting the mood is to think not about your personality, who you are on the inside, but be an active participant in shaping your character, who you are on the outside or as other people see you. When we think about ourselves from the perspective of a character in our story of life, we are actively engaged in shaping our destiny. We are responsible for how the story turns out. If we compare ourselves to literature, we are in the middle of our story. We can choose the way we interpret the past and we have the power to shape the end and the moral. When we are in a sour space, we forget that we have power; we become a victim of our mood.

Once we see ourselves as a character in need of shaping and developing into our stated outcome or ultimate life goal/purpose, we can see others as part of our story. We begin to understand that one small connection, a hello to a stranger, a soft glance to our child, has an impact that we cannot comprehend. We become more responsible as a character, a person who has the power to make the decision to positively impact the world.

When I practice Aikido, I begin to understand at a cellular level the connection between people, my physical impact on the body of another person. I also can see my focus either internally or externally has a shape, and that shape has an impact, which spirals out to others. What is the legacy I want to leave to the world? This question helps me be more responsible, and act as the character I want to be in the world, not as a victim of my mood.

Want to shape your destiny, invite perspective! I look forward to reading how your story turns out!