The Joy of Contrasts

Sunrise #3

The other day the sun was a silver ball. It was surrounded by golden clouds that formed a perfect eye. God is with me, I thought, watching, but also caring and helping. Praise! [RAR]


When I (Dale) originally developed this salad, I did it in the oven, under the broiler. It tasted wonderful. Sometimes later, I was asked to demonstrate it for a women’s meeting at church. There was no broiler on the stage, so I did it in a saute pan on little portable butane stoves. That way worked too.

As I sit here typing, I realize this would work quite well for you guys who enjoy outdoor grilling. This versatile piece of culinary artistry will work for you one way or another.

By the way, there were several husbands who thanked me for teaching this salad to their wives.

This recipe serves 4.

You will Need:

Lettuces of your choice                Olive Oil

2 or 3 Red Bell Peppers               Red Wine Vinegar

1 Yellow Onion                              Salt and Pepper


1. Cut or tear your lettuces into bite-sized pieces. Then wash and dry them. Keep them cool in the refrigerator.

2. Cut the bell peppers into fourths and remove the stems, seeds and white membranes. If you are doing this in a saute pan, you may go ahead and cut the peppers into bite-sized pieces. Not too small. For those of you who are doing this under the broiler or on the grill, keep the peppers in fourths.

3. Try to find a nice sweet onion. A flat one works better than one that is globe shaped. Cut the stem and root off the onion and peel it. Turn the onion upside down. With your chef’s knife, make several cuts across the onion almost all the way through but not quite. Turn the onions 90 degrees and make similar cuts perpendicular to the first set of cuts. You should end up with something like a tic-tac-toe grid. Now open the grid a bit, but don’t tear the onion apart. For those of you who are doing this on top of the stove, you may go ahead and cut the onion all the way through.

How to cut an onion

4. Now coat the pepper pieces and onion with olive oil. The best way to do this is to slosh them around in a bowl. You might need to pour some of the oil directly into the cuts in the onion.

5. Make a vinaigrette dressing with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Start with a one to one ratio, taste it, then modify it to suit your personal tastes. Add the salt and pepper. Hold it at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.


1. Cook the peppers and onion under the broiler or on the grill until they are slightly charred. Then cook the other side in the same way. The onion will take longer to cook (about 15 minutes on each side) than the peppers, so do not start the peppers until the onion has cooked on one side.

2. The vegetables will not char in the saute pan, so cook them on all sides for one or two minutes or until they are slightly softer.


1. After the vegetables are cooked, cut the onion all the way through. If you had a large onion, you may have more than you need. The ration should be two parts of peppers to one part of onion. So save any onion pieces you have left. They will work well in a vegetable stir-fry or in a soup.

2.For those of you who grilled the peppers: cut them into bite-sized pieces now.

3. Pour the cooked vegetables (while they are still warm) on top of the cool lettuce.

4. Pour on the vinaigrette. Toss.

5. You have just created an intriguing salad from very ordinary ingredients. The intrigue lies in the fact that you created a contrast of temperatures—warm and cool—in the same dish.

Expanding Your Understanding:


Contrast is a principle of art which is part of every creative medium. In music we have loud passages and soft passages. A concerto has three movements. The first is fast, the middle one slow, then the third movement is fast again. The painter will contrast lights with darks. We men get to wear a bright red, white and blue neck-tie with a somber black business suit. Of course, we can do without contrast in any of these art forms, but it’s not very interesting without contrasts.

The culinary artist uses contrast too. Here’s how. Contrasting sweet and sour is not uncommon, but there are more ways to contrast flavors. Sometimes I like to stir green grape halves into my chicken salad to achieve a sweet and bland contrast. Sweet and spicy is a good contrast. In our cookbook we’ve included a sweet and spicy Caribbean pork dish which is out of this world.

Contrast how you prepare each dish within a meal. Fried foods are good, but don’t fry everything. Fry one piece of the menu, boil another and steam another. Or roast, braise and bake.

Contrast temperatures within a single dish. Odd, you say? Well, how many people do you know who have turned down a warm piece of apple pie with a dip of ice cream on it? Check out our recipe for roasted red bell pepper salad for a dish that contains a temperature contrast.

Grace your dinner plate with different shapes. Place snow peas beside fried potatoes that have been cut into little cubes and the distinctive lamb chop beside some couscous.

Use the color of foods like a painter uses the contents of his paint box. Place red tomatoes under green asparagus,  yellow corn  on a red plate. I like green broccoli on blue plates. A meal with mashed potatoes, cauliflower and sliced turkey breast isn’t very appetizing to me.

Next time you are having fun in your kitchen, think contrast.

Food for Thought:

Catching the Sunlight

When the watercolor pencil class I attended a couple of months ago ended, the main principle I took away was the importance of using contrasting colors so your main subject will pop out, so it will shine.

Contrasts cause life to be more interesting: the eagle that soars—the ant that crawls, roses that invite—thorns that shout, “Keep away,” sun and moon, man and woman, land and sea. We could each make a list that would go on and on. Try it; it’s enlightening.”

Through the blessing of contrasts, God has provided richness in the world and in our relationships. With a balanced give and take of contasts in marriage and in the body of Christ, we can lend each other wings, help each other shine.

We are acquainted with a man who is constantly on a speaking circuit. He’s conceptual and theological, and his wife is practical. It is a joy to see them on the stage together. She adds down-to-earthness and humor to his discourse.

The way I understand the work of prolific writer Bodie Thoene is that her husband Brock, having a degree in history, uses his knowledge and gift for research to provide the historical background for his wife’s books. Bodie builds on that foundation by writing creative stories people love.

In an orchestra, the violin needs the cello and the flute needs the bassoon for balance. In our physical bodies, the legs need the arms, and the eyes need the ears.

Paul uses the parts of the body to illustrate how the spiritual gifts work in the body of Christ. The person with the gift of exhortation needs the person with the gift of mercy. Mercy softens the blow of exhortation. It helps the medicine go down.

The man with the gift of helps who provides an orderly, equipped room with refreshments(!?!), enhances what the teacher has prepared.

Instead of allowing the differences of our temperaments and gifts to produce conflicts, we can work at give and take. God loves it when we enable others to shine.

“Don’t push your way to the front. . .Put yourself aside and help others get ahead”(Philippians 2:3a, 4).


This entry was posted in Inspiration, Salads, Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Joy of Contrasts

  1. Stephen says:

    I like that picture of you RuthAnn! (a.k.a. ‘Mom’) :]

  2. Stephen says:

    I also like the many varied examples of contrasts. :]

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Stephen,
      It was fun to think about different things that are contrast. We need them don’t we?
      Your mom.

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