Monday, November 21, 2011

Love Salad ♥

The "love salad"

The other night we had a dinner party that honored one visiting daughter from Florida (my yogini) and also celebrated the birthdays of her brother and sister which fall one week apart in November – my two Scorpios. There were spouses, children and grandchildren; the constant hum of conversations between all age groups melodically filled up the space. 

Prior to the event, I had pondered for days what food to prepare for this gathering; I wanted something hearty yet meatless to please both adults and children that would be affordable. That is a lot to ask of one dish. Italian fare always seems to accomplish those goals whether one chooses lasagna, spaghetti, manicotti, or ravioli. I finally decided on manicotti – specifically a recipe I borrowed from America’s Test Kitchen, a loaf of good bread, and a big mixed salad. It all made me look very together, which I am not, because I made the manicotti a day ahead and was relieved of last minute work and was more relaxed. The manicotti recipe was nothing short of sensational (bravo ATK). It was made from Barilla’s “no-boil” lasagna noodles instead of the breakable manicotti noodles and tasted like homemade pasta. Knowing my family’s appetite, I made enough for four (4) manicotti rolls per person. At the end of the evening, there were only three left, so I knew the food was devoured. The real surprise was that the children had gobbled up the salad and it also had disappeared from their plates. So what was the magic to this salad?

Hands lovingly nurturing the salad
My daughter, who created it, put in everything but the kitchen sink – carrots, cabbage, celery, colored peppers, basil, cherry tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, olives, and white beans. Because of the children, we omitted the onions. During preparation, my daughter had fun as if she was making a craft project or scrap-booking. She cut the carrots into heart shapes and also grated long curly slices; she lovingly sliced red and orange peppers into thin long julienne strips and tore the lettuce into child-size bites. All the ingredients were placed in the big blue bowl. With the heart-shaped carrot slices (and her intention) we dubbed it the “love salad.” Before serving it we whipped together some light-as-air lemon vinaigrette - fresh squeezed lemon, some lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. This salad reminded me of the people – everyone was so different yet when they are put all together in a room it worked - for a night at least. Like the vegetables, each human possesses an entirely different personality and sometimes this can make interesting interactions between individuals. But I believe the real magic was the little bit of love. As far as ingredients go, that one is invisible but permeates everything and everyone – it should be included in all recipes and never be omitted! ♥♥♥


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