the change-your-life salad.

radicchio-fennel-and-olive-panzanella

Last Saturday I took BART through San Francisco, over the water to the East Bay. My wise and endearing and delightful friend Terry picked me up, and we drove backroads through the trees and sun and space to her house in the Moraga foothills.  The afternoon was hallowed, made by mere presence together; and because the HBH was hanging out with Cancan for the day, we talked when we wanted to talk, and we were quiet when we wanted to be quiet.  We made lunch together, and we sat wrapped in blankets under the northern California sun.  We questioned and we dreamed, we laughed and we felt, we soaked in the short two hours we had together.

And then we ate the most delicious salad of my life.  Perhaps it’s because I haven’t found my pregnancy jam yet – with Baby #1, I constantly kept a rotisserie chicken in fridge, breaking off hunks of meat whenever carnivorous hunger arose.  But as I think naturally happens when and if a second child in utero comes along, even though you’re utterly delighted at mere thought of chunky, beautiful, helpless babe entering this world, you’ve got other things on your mind.  You’re paying attention to your almost-two year old, chasing him around the house, hoping he doesn’t destroy the mini blinds any more than his sticky, pulling fingers have already done.  You’re writing and you’re hanging out with middle school kids; you’re reading and thinking and taking time for yourself.  You’re cooking food and you’re riding your bike in circles around the neighborhood, and you’re laughing and tickling and loving your Love.

So you barely notice when that little stomach-alien kicks you after a couple bites of the salad.  But then the kick-kick-kick grows in complexity and you begin to notice that he wants more radicchio and fennel, more salami and homemade croutons.   Regardless, you give him more.  You shove more salad into your mouth, you groan food-groans and you compliment your Terry-friend again, again.  Eventually you hop on BART again, but before your boys get home, you go by the store and you grab the ingredients for this change-your-life salad for dinner that evening.  And before you realize it, you’ve eaten nothing but “Radicchio, Fennel and Olive Panzanella” for lunch and dinner on Saturday, lunch and dinner on Sunday …and lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In five days’ time, you’ve successfully eaten the same mixture of yumminess for six entire meals.

And you’re pretty sure you need to head to Lunardi’s again for the third head of radicchio bought in a lifetime, this very week.  So while I’m no food blogger, let me enrich your day with the following meal, straight from Bon Appetit magazine:

IMG_3357

*Note: I substituted shaved parmesan for aged sheep’s-milk cheese, simply because I couldn’t find it in the store.

xo, c.

So, what about you?  Do you have a tendency to dive head-first into a salad, a song, a book you love without coming up for air?  Do share and have a great weekend!

13 thoughts on “the change-your-life salad.

  1. Yum. I’m pretty sure I’ll never make that salad (too many ingredients that I would have to hunt down at various specialty stores) but I would love to try it in a restaurant! I get that way about all things Mediterranean — give me some olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, and red wine vinegar, on almost anything, and I am in heaven!

    1. YES! And someday when you come to California, I’ll make it for every meal you’re here! 🙂 Luckily, there’s a nearby “gourmet” grocery store I can find everything at, because my other usuals – Target and TJ’s – don’t carry it all.

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

  2. That does look good , my two favorites are not too creative, but I do love them.
    I am already dreaming of summer – caprese with extra balsamic vinegar and my new favorite, fennel, green olives (the ones at whole foods with tarragon and orange rind) , and orange segments – finish is mango or orange white balsamic if you can get it. SOOo good

  3. Serious overload of these two when I met them:
    – Olive Garden’s Pasta E Fagioli (pasta-free to support my gluten free living, but it was amaze-balls just the same) http://www.pinterest.com/pin/213780313532983902/
    – Cheesy Caprese Quinoa Bake http://www.pinterest.com/pin/213780313535837214/

    Seriously – made a double-batch, at least once-a-week, but more honestly, twice-a-week and ate every bite, all by myself, every week. Embarrassingly amazing. 🙂

  4. I am sitting at one of my favorite pizza places, a tiny little joint in Palm Desert, as I read this. The pizza will arrive soon, too hot too eat but too delicious to wait for. Your description of that day and that salad are makingy anticipation an added bit of deliciousness.

  5. Hey Cara – it’s your former neighbor 😉 Coincidently, Trader Joe’s has shaved Manchego (at least, the Stonestown one does) all ready to go! I literally just saw it yesterday and was totally excited but not sure what I would use it for. Well, now I know! And, when you run out shaved parm, you have an alternate! Happy salad-eating!

    1. Hi neighbor! Love to you and Patrick. 🙂 Good to know – and our little neighborhood market may have had it, but I didn’t actually ask: just peered really hard in the gourmet cheese section. Regardless, it’s for lunch today. Let me know how you like it!

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