How was everyone’s weekend? Good? Did you sleep in until 11, lesuirely sipping coffee and reading the paper in bed? Or maybe you were nursing a hangover after a wild all-nighter. Did you sleep in a tent? Or hike up that summit you’ve been talking about?
Oh wait – do you have young kids? Yes? Nevermind, I know the answers.
My weekend with the kids was pretty friggin awesome. It was one of those rare, perfect weekends when everyone was healthy. No doctor visits, no coughing, no crazy infections, nothing. That’s a big deal in our house. My kids get sick a lot. Like a lot a lot. I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill cold. My kids get things like Henock Schoen Purpora, a condition that left Nico unable to walk for almost a month. They get pneumonia. They get sudden fever spikes that cause seizures, and prolonged fevers lasting over 12 days. They get giant, infected cysts that don’t go away and extreme, itchy eczema. Yup. There’s more, but I’ll spare you – unless you want to turn this into a competition. Have you met those parents who try and one-up your child’s sickness, because for some bizarre reason they see it as a badge of honor ? I once met a mom who proudly boasted that her son’s case was so bad, he had to be studied by the CDC. I don’t know, that doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.
Anyway . . . this weekend we rode bikes, we walked to the farmers’ market, we had friends over for dinner because I was finally feeling well enough to cook again (I had pneumonia too). The boys were laughing, running, playing and enjoying life as little boys should. Makes me realize that however bad it gets, however stressful, however overwhelming life with kids gets – sick kids in particular – it always gets better. Children heal, problems dissipate. The cycle goes on and on. It’s up to us to soak up every single second when things are good. And when things are bad, we have to remember that it too will pass. It’s only a moment in time, and soon enough, we’ll be basking in the sun yet again.
So. Let’s talk salad. I have a garden out back, where I plant mainly lettuce. All different kinds, different colors. There’s nothing like homegrown lettuce. It’s fresher, crisper, way more satisfying than anything you can buy, even at the farmers’ market. And, it’s super forgiving. I had visions of lazy Sunday mornings, tending to my garden while the boys helped me pull carrots and harvest cilantro. Obviously, that has never happened. Not even once. So I grow lettuce, because you can ignore it for a really, really long time and you’ll just have A LOT of lettuce. Nice, right?
I’m not big on salad dressing. Usually I drizzle on some good olive oil and call it a day. Sometimes I add lemon. Or thick balsamic. But not much more. This here is my go-to salad when I don’t have much in the fridge. It’s salty, crunchy, refreshing, sort of fancy looking, and takes no time at all. There are endless variations. I’ll list a few under the recipe to give you some ideas.
Take a look. Make a fancy salad. And thank your lucky stars if you’re still wondering what the hell Henock Schoein Purpora is.
Easy, salty, autumn Salad with mixed seeds
I’m not giving exact amounts for this recipe. It totally depends on how much salad you want. This recipe is extremely forgiving, so play around with the ingredients to see what you like.
– Mix of fresh lettuces
– 1 Bunch purple radishes, thinly sliced
– About 1/2 cup ricotta salata, grated (Ricotta salata is a crumbly, salty cheese from Italy. Try feta if you can’t find it at your local cheese shop.)
– 1/2 or 1 cup mixed seeds and nuts. I use a combo of the following, all roasted and salted: sunflower seeds, pepitas, pine nuts
– Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– Buttery, fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the radish slices, grated cheese and mixed seeds/nuts.
- Grind some black pepper on top
- This is the only tricky part. To dress the salad, slowly drizzle the olive oil around the parameter of the bowl (not directly on top of the lettuce), twice. Using tongs, toss the salad, coating the lettuce in the olive oil. Add more oil if you need it, but always do it slowly. There’s nothing worse than soggy, overdressed salad.
- Taste it. Does it need salt? Add some! Again, a little at a time.
- Use chopped avocado instead of radishes
- Add a bunch of chopped, fresh herbs like mint and cilantro.
- Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and add thinly sliced jalapeño peppers.