Here’s the dilemma: I need to prepare dinner for the woman child and her friend on a night home from college, but I really, really wanted to go to the wine bar with my friend. Like, REALLY. Rosé calling my name. Very. Very. Loudly. A shocking surprise to myself? Set my expectations lower. LOW, Low, low, low, low. Seriously, it does *not* have to be a fancy dinner. Friday morning I got out the flank steak, planned for roasted, cubed sweet potatoes with my lemon-thyme sea salt and rosemary-infused olive oil, and started thinking about a salad.
Of course, at first I thought of a fancy salad, but in order to keep with my “set my expectations lower” theme, my mind went to a caesar. But darn, we’ve had caesar so much because that’s basically the only salad that I’ve seen my son eat eagerly. Do you ever have a moment when your mind is literally pouring through every single pantry item? Well, I do, and in that moment yesterday morning, my mind stumbled upon the raspberry vinegar that has been at the back of my oil and vinegar shelf. Got it on a special at Bartell’s. When my friend and I were shopping today, I mentioned it, and she said, “Isn’t it amazing that Bartell’s has all that weird shit?” “It’s the old people,” I said, “going to get their prescriptions. They’re headed back to the pickup counter when they pass Brianna’s salad dressing for $1.99, and they’re like, ‘Hey, I think I need some salad dressing.'” Or canned salmon, Laughing Cow cheese, canned mushrooms or a jar of roasted bell peppers. Have you seen their roasted bell peppers? They great and they’re only, like, $1.79 a jar on sale. I stock up on a dozen per sale and use them in everything.
The task on hand last night, though, was salad. And that raspberry vinegar demanded a yummy, interesting vinaigrette, and one with oregano (I used 2 T fresh instead of 1/4 tsp. dried) called my name. A bowl full of baby spinach. Add blueberries. Slice some strawberries over it. Toss in feta (always, always keep that on hand in the Costco quantity). Top with toasted pinenuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette. “Squad!”
The thing that I find most interesting is how delicious good, fresh food is. Growing up, we didn’t often have salads in my house because we only went grocery shopping every other week when my dad got paid. We got milk in between, but the only shot of produce we really had was available in our house every other week. No wonder my youngest brother ate a half a flat of strawberries, freshly picked, in the middle-backseat of the car that day in June. And, vegetables were canned or frozen, which paired-up nicely with the frozen Banquet fried chicken or Salisbury steak and instant mashed potatoes. Clearly, I don’t come from a salad culture. But lately, I’ve been truly enjoying delicious salads and I think it only can get better. Jar salad lunches and supper salads might appear more and more on my menu because they’re quick and easy to make for two. Empty nesters, that is.