Sunday, August 17, 2008

Plus Salads

I have been in a blissful state of living in a house I do not have to pay rent on and eating from a fridge I do not have to fill. In less than a week, I return to the real world.

I love the independence of managing my own budget, buying my own grocery, and deciding my own bedtime, though I must admit it's nice to get to put a few things in someone else's shopping cart once in a while, or hear a caring voice remind me around midnight, "You should get some sleep, Lael."

These are the benefits of hanging out at Mom's place come summertime and Christmas. These generous gestures and gentle nagging habits define my seasonal stays with her, plus salads. Lots of salads. My mom is a master at coming up with so many different salad recipes that I never ever get bored.

Salad was being dished onto my plate from as early as I could stomach it, and I remember that if there was ever a standoff between me, my brothers, or my sister and our vegetables, the vegetables would always win. My mom saw to it.

So give me a salad, and I'm a happy girl. (Just make sure the lettuce isn't iceberg and the dressing isn't Kraft.)

My mom made a salad this past week that made me particularly happy. It helped that the beans were crunchy and slightly sweet and there was plenty of fresh mozzarella. Add to that tomatoes, olives, Parmesan, and a mellow Italian dressing, and I like to think that my taste buds were welcoming these flavors by the age of three.

Italian Green Bean Salad
Adapted by Rachael Jewel (don't ask me where it from; as usual, it's copied onto an index card)

1/2 lb. green beans, barely steamed and cooled
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1 c. black olives
6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 t. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
Toasted pine nuts and Parmesan, to garnish

Toss all ingredients together, sprinkle pine nuts and freshly grated Parmesan on top, and serve.

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