A Seat at the Table

11 . 27 . 11

My parents never arranged a separate kid’s table and a grown-ups table during holiday meals. The youngsters ate what the adults ate and participated in the same rituals of passing the biscuits, hoarding the gravy, and holding each others warm, eager hands in gratitude for another meal, another year in good health and humor.

Such a simple act of inclusion, a seat at the table. An act of affirmation, really… You, yes you, young one, have a unique and important way of looking at the world.  There is so much to be grateful for during the holidays, but a seat at the table has been a gift I’ve probably undervalued until lately.

Respect was a reciprocal value in my house growing up – give respect, receive respect. Our opinions and perspectives were encouraged but more importantly, my parents invited us to the table and then they listened. They had enough respect to sit with us and walk alongside us in our crazy ideas. I know better now, as I’ve aged, that some people never get a seat at the table, no matter how old they are. I get it now. I’ve been on the outside, I’ve seen and felt what it’s like for youth to be dismissed as naïveté. Even now when I don’t get “a seat at the table” (figuratively speaking) I remember this. I give thanks for this. What a gift it is to for people to take us seriously.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the table is there at every moment of each day to sit, stand, walk beside someone and give them room and respect to speak their truth. Through the rest of the year who will you invite to a seat at the table? Invite them. Just sit there. Really look at them. Hear their story. Reach out to the younger folk in your clan too – see them, affirm them. They’ll remember.

This turned out to be much more festive than I first anticipated while wandering the aisles at the market today. I imagine it would make a great holiday side, but an even better weeknight meal turned sack-lunch. If kale isn’t your idea of a party dish, try spinach instead.

Pomegranate + Kale + Pearl Onion Orzo 

  • 1 large bunch of kale (or two, if you’re a go-getter)
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 2 cups pearl onions
  • 2 shallot bulbs
  • 2 1/2 cups orzo

Olive Oil + Orange + Honey Dressing

  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tsp raw honey

Bring 2 medium-large pots to a boil with a bit of salt. In the first pot, boil pearl onions for 7-10 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, then remove skins. Set aside. For the second pot, boil orzo with a splash of olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Remove, strain, but do not rinse.

Break open pomegranates one at a time, massaging out the seeds into a large bowl. Pick out the little white fibrous bits as you go along. This  can be a bit messy for the first time pomegranate handler, wear an apron! Alternatively, you could purchase pom. seeds in the produce section of your grocery. Once finished, return to the onions. to remove skins, cut off the bottom stem portion and peel the rest with your fingers. Cut in half and toss with the seeds in the big bowl. Finely dice the shallots and stir with the seeds and onions.

Rinse out the onion pot and bring another bit of water to heat. Remove kale leaves from the tough spine and chop until very small bits. Not quite a mince, but a good chop. When the water is almost to a boil, immerse the kale and blanch for no more than 1 minute. Remove, strain the water, and toss with the pomegranate, onions, and so forth.

Slowly stir in cooked orzo, 1 cup at a time. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, salt, orange juice (a little pulp is great too), and the honey. Pour over the entire bowl and stir again to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

  • Sarahla

    Lovely post and great recipe! I wholly support the one table for all idea. Separating seems almost anti-holiday.
    We just did a post on easy pomegranate de-seeding that could come in handy with this recipe:
    http://applesandonions.com/kitchen/how-to-eat-a-pomegranate

  • Gorgeous! I am so inspired by pomegranates right now. Great combination of colors and flavors in your dish. I love the idea of bringing everyone together at the table.

  • Lovely, thoughtful, thought-provoking post. I was one of the kids who didn’t get a seat at the table – until maybe late Junior High. I can still remember being at a small table in the kitchen at Thanksgiving while my parents and their friends scored a ticket to the dining room table. All these years later, and your words immediately evoked that scene and feeling. My grandchildren have a seat at my table today. And the table is much more interesting for it. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  • Oh! And kale is definitely my idea of party food, especially with the pomegranate seeds. Lovely recipe too!

  • Reading this made me smile. I always felt like I was at the kids table for far too long, but now, looking back on it, the kids’ table looks like a fun place! Oddly, at my thanksgiving this year, there were no kids (my 21 year old sister was the youngest) so we all got to enjoy one another’s company.

    I love the lively burst of color that pomegranates bring. They remind me of living in Granada, Spain — where I studied abroad. In Spain, granada is pomegranate. I ate my first one there and although I haven’t been able to match the taste of a fresh one here in america, I still treat myself to a couple a year. This salad looks so festive, I love anything with kale!

  • Oh, Kelsey…this is another very beautiful post! I made a salad with kale and pomegranate for Thanksgiving- it’s a great combo.

  • Sounds lovely! I made something similar with brown rice last week.

  • This looks wonderful—and I love the ideas and thoughts too. We never had a kids’ table in my family either—maybe because there really weren’t enough people to separate us, but it was just a given that we’d all be a part of the celebration and the conversation. Yep, love the respect aspect!

  • Beautiful post – thank you for reminding how, as the only kid/grandkid at our family table I remember always being treated with respect, love and interest. Thanks – I needed that…

  • ps I selected you as the next SD food blogger in the spotlight…

  • Lovely post. We didn’t have a kids table either, but I never really appreciated it that much until I read your words. You’re so right.

    I make orzo salad a lot and I absolutely love the pops of red from the pomegranates in yours. Very festive.

  • Beautiful message, Kelsey. As an only child, I was often treated as one of the adults, and I think it helped me grow up to be a woman that feels that her opinions should be heard! This salad looks so pretty – pomegranates add a touch of festivity to everything! xo

  • Chloe

    Thank you. That post was wonderful. I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

  • Such a lovely story. I had an aunt growing up who always made me feel like an adult, that I mattered. She’d listen intently to my every word an asked my opinion on topics she knew I had no idea about. You’re so right. To this day, I remember.

    What a fabulous (and festive!) salad. You had one of the very best jobs: pomegranate seed massage. :)

  • Kale is my latest obsession! I think I need to try this soon.

  • Hmmm, I’m wondering if raw kale would work here. I’ve been into raw kale salads recently :)

  • hey! I just found your blog and I am loving it- i love the pictures and your simple, happy words. i too am into real food and csa boxes and seeking out adventures. i love to explore- both the world and the world of food. i am excited to follow your journey!

  • I have always set a place at the big table for my kids as well. Personally, I really like having them there and I think they have always liked it too. They didn’t always stay for the whole drawn out part of the meal and wandered off while the adults sat and sipped coffee or wine.
    Another wonderful post! And gorgeous photos as well.

    I made a Pumpkin Granola for my husband! He liked it but said “Not as good as the one you got from the other girl”. That was yours from the Bakesale. You have a fan! I think I will have to stick to you recipe. Thanks!

  • I’m big into textured salads like this right now. If I get my hands on a pomegranate, I know what I’ll do :)

    The idea of gathering around a table is so rich with metaphor. Even for people not in the family, the idea of ‘a seat at the table’—inclusiveness, understanding, nourishment—is so powerful. Love this, Kelsey.

  • it looks so fresh! the whole combination is great

  • oh heyyyy beautiful salad. love this post. as per usual.

  • Beautiful photos & recipe! I’m definitely adding this orzo to my list of things to make :)

  • What a delicious looking salad. I can’t wait to make one for our family table.

  • This is just a beautiful salad, and with the red and green combination it really does look festive. I have troubles finding kale in our supermarkets, I’ll have to go to the farmer’s market, I guess. I really want to make this salad for lunch next week, maybe with farro instead of orzo, since I brought home quite a lot of it from Italy.

  • Kelsey, the photos in this post are so stunning. Clean and colourful and perfect. I am so envious of your mad skills. :P

    Kelly.

  • Laurie

    This salad looks delish! Can’t wait to try it. A seat at the table for the kiddos this Christmas :)’s

  • Such a beautiful salad. I just want to dig right in! My mom’s family is too big to fit all eighteen of us around a table together, but my cousins and brothers and I had a grand time at our kids table. I think my parents did a great job of listening to our thoroughly crazy ideas, I just wish I had been more supportive of my brothers’ ideas. I think it’s hard, as the oldest, to appreciate the age gap. Anyway, lovely message, as always.

  • Holy…amazing photography AND food. Will be reading often…

  • Danielle F

    Hey Kelsey,

    First off I adore your blog. I always look for you around campus just so I can let you know but I never seem to run inot you this semester. Also, I grew up an old orchard property and while my parents had a lot of the yard torn up and the trees pulled out so we could have some lawn space, we kept tons of fruit trees and a vegetable patch, including a pomegranate. I have a point here, I promise. I learned a little trick alng te way: place the pomegranate in a bowl of water,slice the pomegranate in half carefully and then massage the seeds out of the fruit underwater. It avoids all of the mess (which looks beautiful in the photos, but is not so great on your clothes). The seeds sink to the bottom and the white stuff floats to the top. Then you can just drain the seeds! Anyway, I just though I’d share since it’s saved many a t-shirt.:)Danielle Farias

  • thanks for this. :-)

    xo,
    Kim

  • how delicious! and beautiful looking. we never had a kids’ table either, and i loved sitting with the adults. :)

  • This was fantastic! A great little “detox” salad after eating too much the last couple of weeks! I kept the kale raw and it also tasted quite delicious. Thanks for sharing a fantastic recipe!

  • Pamela

    Our friend Susan W. was telling me about your blog that has seasonal food and can’t wait to try your recipes. My boy’s and I love, love, pomegrantes and Kale. This will be a great addition to our Christmas menu.

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