“Seed Brittle is the new crouton!” I actually said that as I served this salad at a dinner party last week. It felt so good to discover something new in the food world, create my version, and then share it with my hungry guests. I love the mix of salty, sweet, and spicy flavors on top of a fresh salad as well as the unexpected texture. It’s not just like sprinkling a handful of nuts over your greens or even like sprinkling a candied nut (which used to be my all time favorite salad topping) onto your lettuce pile. Hooray for new ideas! Hooray for seeds!
I am a huge Mary Engelbreit fan. Huge. I went to college at the Webster Conservatory in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. I think I spent all of my work-study money at her shop in Webster Groves buying greeting cards, notepads, and tote bags. As fantastic as her drawings were way back then, they truly have just gotten better and better. She illustrates a slice of life that is so true and relatable, yet still aspirational and dreamlike. Mary’s drawings are often paired with quotes. I used to collect quotes like they were stamps or rare coins. I loved their tidy little lessons of wisdom in a petite little sentence. I would fill journals with quotations and then create gift books for others of carefully curated quotes chosen especially for them. Raise your hand if you’ve ever received one of those quote books from me. (Or the blog version of raising a hand… leave a comment!)
As I was making the seed brittle I kept thinking about these sweet little seeds donating their seed lives to my salad topping. Were they happy to be in my salad and not feeding a bird somewhere? Were they hoping to be planted to grow into a pumpkin or sunflower, or to be crushed into oil for cooking? There’s shakti, or energy, in everything, not just living things. Even stones have shakti, so it actually occurred to me to consider the life of these seeds. I thought of my quote books, many of those quotes jumping off a Mary Engelbreit card. I thought of an old favorite from The Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622.)
“Bloom Where You’re Planted.”
Well, the word nerd in me loves that it is an imperative sentence. You must bloom. You must.
Whether those little seeds had a hope for something else, they absolutely kicked ass in my salad, which made me think about what that means for me. Despite my hopes, am I kicking ass with the situations given to me? Am I not only growing in my given surroundings, but thriving? Are my blooms making the world a more beautiful place? Am I even caring for my seeds, nurturing them with proper rest, food, sunlight, etc., so they can grow into their full potential? As with anything, we have good days and bad days, right?
And for the sake of argument, maybe we are really unhappy with where we’ve been planted. We are stuck or we can’t make things work. Our circumstances aren’t ideal; we love our friends, not our job. We love our job yet hate the city we live in. Love the city we’re in and can’t find a job - whatever! Maybe our trees aren’t bearing fruit. Perhaps seasons come and go without a single blossom. There are 6 basic needs for fruit tree production that can be applied perfectly to our human lives:
- Development. Sometimes we are late bloomers and it takes a little more time. Have patience.
- Pollination. Who are our birds and bees? Do we have good partners? We must surround ourselves with good people.
- Hardiness Zones aka the Weather. One of my bests said, “I refuse to spend another Winter in NYC!” She happily calls me from her daily beach walks from Los Angeles going on 2 years now. She’s blooming because she checked her hardiness zone.
- Pruning. Are we eliminating the things in our lives that aren’t serving us? Are we cutting back to allow new growth?
- Spacing. If fruit trees are planted too close together, they compete for light and nutrients. They create growth conflict and interference. This is why I travel every year. I seek out new ground to get light and nutrients for my soul. I return home and bloom!
- Soil Conditions. If we are eating and hydrating properly, we will have enough reserve energy to support our dreams. When we deplete ourselves we are susceptible to stress and illness.
Bloom where you are planted. And planting is seasonal. There’s always next year!
Sweet and Spicy Seed Brittle
adapted from bon appétit
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Combine honey, Aleppo pepper, and water in a small bowl. Toast sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing, until sesame seeds are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add honey mixture and cook, stirring, until seeds stick together in small clumps, about 3 minutes. Scrape seed mixture onto parchment paper; let cool. Break into small clusters. toss on top of a salad in place of croutons! Makes enough brittle to top four servings of salad.