The past week and a half has been one of the busiest periods of time I can recall. It certainly trumped any college finals, Restaurant Week, or anything else I once thought was taxing. I’m talking way damn busy.* There were times when it was painful – tears, certainly. But now that it’s over, I’m proud of it and ready to overload my calendar again, though perhaps not for at least a couple weeks.
There was a baby shower, 4th of July festivities, an overnight trip away from the baby, a massive household pest treatment, catering a wedding in Matthews County, and one epic night of Kitchen Surfing all crammed into about 8 days. On two separate instances during WARMAGEDDON 2012, I stood outside making pizzas for about 8 hours. I salted and marinated every eggplant at Tan A, dismantled a pork shoulder and made sausage after 10pm, and spent the better part of a day making pasta and rolling ravioli.
But for the patience of my husband, the contribution of my besty, and a propensity for summer salads, I fear I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I did, and I certainly wouldn’t have eaten as well. Here are three simple salads that made dinner quick and easy, utilized my CSA bounty, and kept the kitchen cool:
Potato Salad with Green Beans and Tomatoes
1 lb. New Potatoes, large dice, steamed or boiled to juust about done, not mushy
1 lb. Green Beans, blanched
1 Shallot, minced
1 pt. Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons Maille Whole Grain Mustard
2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 cup(ish) Olive Oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine potatoes, green beans, shallots, and cherry tomatoes. In a separate bowl, combine mustard and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Toss vegetables in vinaigrette, and taste. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. Allow to cool and eat within about 2 days. If you’re taking this to a party, dress the salad right before you go to avoid the dreaded Green Bean Discoloration. Pairs perfectly with a rotisserie chicken (from the store even!)
As soon as the first pint of cherry tomatoes hits my market basket, I become obsessed with tomato and cucumber salads – sometimes with red onion and lots of vinegar, sometimes with fresh mozzarella and basil. I could pretty much eat some variation on this theme every day forever. This particular incarnation was great over couscous and a lifesaver, tucked into a pita, for lunch the next day. I used chicken that I had marinated in yogurt and spices and thrown on the grill earlier in the week. I just can’t waste hot coals, and every time I grill, I end up grilling everything in my path.
Tomato & Cucumber Salad with Grilled Chicken
2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, grilled, cooled, and diced
1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 pt. Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 Scallions, chopped
3/4 cup Feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 big handfuls Arugula
1 cup Cous Cous
Combine chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, and feta. Add vinegar and oil, and mix well to combine. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Serve over cous cous and arugula.
The last salad is my favorite. It’s a quick take on Fatoush, the Middle Eastern pita salad, and it’s so easy, I won’t bother with a recipe. I had leftover tabouleh and pita from a falafel feast that I needed to use up, so I toasted the pita (hard,) and combined it with the tabouleh, some fresh mint, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, lemon juice, and olive oil. Boom ‘Fauxtoush.’
* Here’s an interesting article on being busy that came out in the Opinionator a couple weeks ago. I say ‘interesting’ because it interests me, but I’ve been too busy to actually read it. I have some preliminary reactions to it on principle, but I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.
Also, I would just like to thank everyone who helped me not die this week, which includes but is not limited to my darling husband and aforementioned besty – Seth and Jon were by my side the whole time, playing with Lily, carting me and truckloads of gear across Richmond, even stuffing a few ravioli so that I could actually take a shower; Victoria who was right there with me for it and more and was sweet and patient and gave me a bottle of booze when it was all over; Evan for cleaning up my messes and being consistently pleasant to work with, my merm for spending Sunday afternoon with LBG; and the RVA Kitchen Surfing contingent, Caitlin, Max, and Lianna, for ensuring that Monday a total success! It takes a village, people.
..but not THE village people.