Oh my goodness, oh my goodness – so much has been going on these days! It’s hard to believe that it’s already the middle of the last week of June, how did that happen!? I’ve got to say, it’s been a great month – June is and will always be my favourite and this year was no exception, especially since I celebrated a milestone birthday which included time spent with loved ones and unexpected travels to the Great West (Los Angeles and Beautiful Country, British Columbia – more on that adventure another time).
So far, turning 30 has been fantastic. This could be largely due to the fact that I have been anxiously waiting to enter my 30’s for a few years now – I’m not one of those people who worries about getting older and unlike most friends and acquaintances that I talk to, I have been looking forward to leaving my uncertain and stressful 20-something self behind so I can emerge as a confident, happy, 30-something woman who knows what she wants and gets it. And while it wasn’t like I woke up on June 3rd feeling like a different person, I do sense this very real shift in the way I’m carrying myself, in the way that I try to think things through, and in my overall sense of self. Of course this is all just in my head and I know at heart that I’m still a big kid who will never grow up – but nonetheless, I feel great.
Elements of this “new decade, new me” sensation seem to be infiltrating every part of my life, including this blog and my ongoing meal planning project. Where I used to worry and stress a few months ago about what I’d put on the menu each week and feel internal pressure to keep up with regular posts, I’m now more mellow and happy to go with the flow week by week. This might also be heavily driven by the fact that my trip out west more or less killed our budget for the entire month which prevents me from planning extravagant meals every week, as well as the arrival of the glorious summer season which gives me my giant dose of happiness-inducing vitamin D and puts me into a more relaxed lull.
Also, my garden! This garden is just extraordinary – it does so well with so little intervention that I’m convinced there is some magic power fuelling the growth of everything in that tiny plot. We’ve been living on salad for the last 3 weeks and I can’t pick the lettuce fast enough.
So this brings me to the Summer Salad Smorgasbord – since I haven’t been putting meals up on the chalkboard for the last few weeks, I thought I could at least share a small glimpse of my salad-filled month of June, perhaps to inspire a little impromptu salad spin-off in your own life. (Speaking of spinning – please note that a salad spinner to dry lettuce would be an extremely useful tool should you choose to start a garden filled with leafy greens…)
Tomato Basil Magic: Is this the most essential and classic food pairing in the world? I certainly think so. These two mixed together are like a perfect marriage of sweet and spicy and fresh and tasty and yum, yum, yum. I’ve pretty much made a Tomato and Basil Salad once a week since I planted my herbs in May, and it never gets old. I mean: sliced or chopped tomatoes, slivers of basil, freshly cracked pepper, some coarse kosher salt, a drizzle of olive oil – easy and delightful. The tomatoes in my garden are just starting to come in so I’ve been buying local from a place about 5 minutes from my house until my garden explodes in a few weeks.
Duo Di Salad: Once upon a time, there was a glorious Italian restaurant in my hometown, and they offered the best duo di pasta dishes with 2 different noodles and sauces that were perfectly complementary to each other. The restaurant is long gone but the duo concept lives on in my heart… So my duo di salad is like the skinny woman’s version with 2 fresh salads playing off each other for dinner – we had these 2 with a big cheese omelette and it was excellent. Does that tomato salad on the right look familiar? That’s some A+ tomato-basil-magic right there. And the salad on the left is a ton of lettuce from the garden with locally purchased cucumbers and radishes (at least until my own cucumbers come in), topped with this easy, flavourful and creamy salad dressing that I discovered last year.
Tomato Cucumber Medley: This salad has ALL THE HERBS. Parsley, Basil, Chives, Mint, repeat. And it’s basically the same as my magical tomato-basil concoction (salt, pepper, olive oil, toss) except it includes large chunks of cool cucumber and plenty of different herbs, making every bite taste slightly different. In fact, whenever I throw this together, it comes out like a completely new salad each time, which I love!
The Mighty Cesar: This year we decided to try growing Romaine lettuce in the garden, and (why am I always so surprised) it worked! I pillaged this section of the garden last night and we had a gigantic Chicken Cesar Salad, complete with bacon bits and grated cheese. (And yes, I used dressing from a jar instead of making my own, it was a lazy dinner night and my man loves the pre-made dressing, I have no shame.) That lettuce though. It looked so good I would have eaten it bare without anything on it.
Sadly those are all the pictures I have on hand – in all other salad instances, we were too hungry to pause before capturing the greens in all their glory. But something tells me there’s more to come from the garden in the coming weeks… Until then, eat your greens kiddies, and enjoy the sunshine!