On Eating and Loving Food

Just when you think there’s nothing for lunch

A delicious, healthy, beautiful salad is born
Posted:  Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 8:15am

You know how all of a sudden it’s, like, 1 p.m., and you’re starving? You start searching the fridge, hoping lunch will magically appear.

That happened yesterday. There was peanut butter and red currant jelly, and some good bread in the freezer (my bread lives in the freezer – I take out a couple pieces as needed and it stays fresh as the day I bought it). But a peanut butter and jelly sandwich held no appeal whatsoever. I don’t think it has since I was, like, 6.

I kept looking, still feeling optimistic. There were two pieces of leftover (originally frozen) pizza. It wasn’t good when it was first cooked, and I knew it would be even worse after sitting in the fridge for three days. I chucked it.

Honestly, I’d rather have nothing for lunch than something yucky, or at least unappealing. But I was hungry and beginning to feel a little desperate, when I spotted a package of arugula out of the corner of my eye.

I didn’t remember when I bought it, and feared the worst. But alas! It was still dark green and crisp. I smelled it. It smelled like arugula. Yay.

I started virtually eating a forkful of arugula with my favorite dressing. Uh oh. But yes! There was a half cruet-ful on the fridge door. In case you’ve forgotten, or simply didn’t care, my favorite salad dressing, and really the only one I ever use, is Good Seasons Italian. Not zesty Italian, and not a generic brand. It comes in a package and you mix it up with vinegar and oil.

I have yet to read the ingredients. It is what it is, and like wine and salt, I will never be without it in my pantry. (I don’t really have a pantry, but I want one bad. It would complete my kitchen with the beautiful glossy forest-moss green floor.)

So anyway. I had the very basic ingredients for a delicious, healthy salad. And now that I had a goal, I kept looking. I spotted a container of crumbled blue cheese. I didn’t remember how long that had been there either (insert trepidatious emoticon), and it’s kind of hard to know if blue cheese is no longer edible. It stinks anyway, and looks moldy. Sarah Morley would have chucked it. I didn’t.

Next I found a small bag of whole raw pecans, some grape tomatoes, a perfectly ripe avocado and the dregs of a package of tortilla strips – just enough to sprinkle over the top to add some pretty colors and a little crunch.

I was in business.

As I was about to close the fridge door I saw the plastic container of dried, sweetened cranberries I had bought for lord knows what a few weeks ago. Those babies last forever.

By now I was kind of excited, and very hungry.

Arugula, pecans, grape tomatoes, avocado, dried sweetened cranberries, some crunchy tortilla strips, crumbled blue cheese, and my favorite dressing, oh, my!

A beautiful, delicious, healthy bowlful of lunch is born!

My next bowlful of healthy deliciousness is going to be a three-bean salad, thanks to my friend, Marilyn Gorneau, who is a better cook than I, if you can imagine it :-)

Marilyn has been giving me some badly needed moral support during the past three weeks. I had a skin cancer cut out of my leg, and it’s been nothing short of a pain-ridden nightmare since.

I know this is a food column, so I won’t get into great detail here, but I will when I write a story, next week, about our amazing wound care center here in Boothbay Harbor, after a kind of emergency visit to our equally amazing Urgent Care Center, both on the St. Andrews Campus.

I don’t know if that fabulous team of women at the wound care center are really miracle workers, but after spending a couple hours with them yesterday, and sleeping almost nine hours last night, after far too many of three or four, I’m thinking of them as superheros. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of my healing process. Fortunately, our amazing wound care center is 15 minutes away.

Anyway, this morning Marilyn reiterated one of the things I was told yesterday, about a protein-rich diet being a crucial element in the wound-healing process, and she sent me her recipe for her protein-filled three-bean salad. I’m going to make it today, and I’ll tell you all about it next week.

And that arugula salad? The combination of stuff I used that day is totally ridiculous, but you can make a salad like this substituting all kinds of stuff: Fresh mozzarella for the blue, slivered almonds for the pecans, different lettuces for the arugula, blah blah blah. But do me a favor: Try the Good Seasons Italian Dressing. And if you read the ingredients and they’re scary, I don’t want to hear about it.

See ya next week!