Red cabbage. We were always friendly enough to each other when we saw one another at parties, but I wouldn't often make time to see red cabbage, especially not one on one. I think we both worried that, after that preliminary round of catching up on the other's latest soul searching, we wouldn't have anything to say. Then, one night, I cracked the code.
  • Red Cabbage, maybe half of one? Even that might be a lot. Those things provide endless roughage.
  • Grapefruit! Slice it up into pleasing bitesize morsels. You can use the whole thing unless it's threatening to completely take over.
  • Carrot, sliced thin enough that it doesn't raise questions.
  • Radish. What's up radish.
  • Cilantro. Optional, especially if you're one of those people for whom cilantro ruins everything.
  • Balsamic vinegar. Apple cider vinegar seems to be the vinegar of choice for red cabbage affairs, and I gots no problem with that, but I wanted something more jovial for this one. Red cabbage can be a little dour sometimes, y'know? Oh, and  throw it on as soon as the cabbage is in the bowl, so that the vinegar has time to negotiate into its pores.
  • Salt, tarragon, oregano, I threw on a little curry powder. Some olive oil too. Not exactly an oil and vinegar sort of dressing, but a dash of olive oil makes it tastier AND shinier.
I made this little creation to go with a meal that was already plenty filling and salty, but is there any doubt that some GOAT CHEESE would rock the house on this one? Not in my mind. Cashews, almonds, walnuts or your favorite nut would also make this one more filling and still allow it to sing its song. Before going with the grapefruit, I tossed a lime to myself, wondering how that would go. I concluded, after several mental simulations, that it would be splendizesty, but it would require a lot of lime. The grapefruit went a long way (further than I needed it to), was easy to work with, pleasing to chew, the right amount sweet... yeah it worked. What I'm saying is that other citrusy things would work too (lookin at you there tangerine).
This is one is pretty damn easy, and until it goes mainstream, it's pretty reliable in getting people to make expressions whose sum of surprised and impressed on separate scales of 1-10 tops 10. So, maybe they're a 6 impressed (nifty! they think) and a five surprised (well this is unexpected, they say, with hands on hips). Or perhaps they're an eight impressed (you are such a good person! they beam) and at least a three surprised (I didn't leave the house knowing I'd feel these emotions).
  • Fennel, sauteed in olive oil, sliced how you like (circles are cool, but smaller pieces are easier to eat)
  • Arugula. Arugula is awesome.
  • Blueberries. Wash, throw in.
  • Optional: a nifty cheese. Goats are friendly, as they tend to be. This is also a good opportunity to chat up your local cheese merchant. Sample something with some twang. Smoked gouda? Damnit, why not.
  • Optional: oil and balsamic. You think it's weird that those are optional, right? This one is killer if you get the proportions so that the arugula has plenty of support from the other ingredients. If you didn't skimp on those, and especially if you have a nice talkative cheese in there, you can skip or go pretty light on the liquids. They're safe though, and they give the arugula more to work with. Your salad, your call.
  • Blueberry alternatives (or teammates?!): Berries of rasp, black, goji or dried cran (that's probably my order of preference too), pomegranate seeds.
All you friggin do is chop and saute the fennel (salt it a tad), throw it and all the other stuff together, mix it around, say kablammo. Bonus points for taking the fennel off the heat in time to let it cool before it gets thrown in, but even that's not necessary. Don't cook it into oblivion either, just loosen it up some. This one works for friends, strangers and potential lovers.