Yesterday, while on my morning dog walk, barely awake (like always), dressed in an oversized t-shirt with the words - world's greatest grandpa - printed across the front, and neon pink tracks, I spotted a lady. She had just stepped foot onto her front porch, coffee in one hand, garden sheers in the other. A bit of gardening before work maybe? or was it her day off, a full day to bask in the sun and all of its glory. Regardless, she was in her element, and I was envious. I ran home, changed into a pair of ass-flattering lulu lemons, and did a bit of gardening myself. My tomatoes plants are out of control. They are turning our patio into something resembling a jungle. They've crowded out all the other plants, and although I weep a little every time, a major hacking was necessary in order to give light to my habaneros, kale, carrots, and beets. A few of my other plants have wilted up and died. The sugar snap peas just couldn't handle the heat, and my chard is slowing becoming infested. I've been thinking about replanting something else, and then it dawned on me. Summer is in full swing, a month and a half left of this glorious weather, and then I'll have to start thinking about tucking my plants in for the winter (a small tear rolls down my cheek).
Last weekend we took advantage of the warm sun, and long summer days, and I have promised myself that I will give these last weeks of summer 100%. Bike rides, swimming, berry picking, cold frosty beverage sipping. I've recently dusted of my bike, after a year of not riding. Brent bikes to work everyday, and on the way home, up a giant hill. If you've ever been to Seattle, you know that this town is mostly made of hills, so he has legs of steel, and mine a little weak. Besides, my bikes rides always involve the travel to and from beer, so I'm just going to blame my inability to keep up on that.
Last weekend, while on our biking island tour, we stopped to pick some blueberries. I get pretty excited about picking most fruit, blackberries are the exception. Although, it was a bit different this time around, picking large juicy blueberries from a farm, instead of the tiny ones in Ontario, the ones that grow along the railroad tracks - and I was quite pleased that I didn't need to keep looking over my shoulder for bears. We picked half a bucket, but if I had of known that it was only going to cost $2, I might have picked more. It's a shame really, that you can't pick fruit and have it last, fresh on the counter for weeks. The whole bake them into a pie/cobbler/crisp is awesome, but it is way less awesome when you are sitting on the couch, pie in one hand, fork in the other, just going about your business, eating the whole thing for dinner. p.s we totally bought a rhubarb raspberry pie and ate the whole thing.
In light of my 'I'll eat a pie for dinner in the summer because I have no self-control' confession, I strategically chose not to turn these blueberries into a pie, rather add it to a salad, because salads are amazing, colorful, crunchy, and make me feel good. If you come round here often, you know that arugula is my go-to choice for greens. Although, this salad would be nice with some spinach or kale. Whatever is fresh and growing nearby. Tiny sweet tomatoes are in abundance around my parts. They are a pretty addition to this dish. I chose them for the color - I love how purple/blue and orange look together, so alternatively, some grilled peaches would also meet the requirements. A little sliced shallot, or red onion would be fine. Some almond slices for crunch. A few slices of warm mozzarella heated with olive oil in a pan. All lightly dressed with a cinnamon balsamic maple dressing. Cinnamon is a spice that I've been experimenting with lately, in non-traditional cinnamony dishes. It all stemmed from a breakfast meal, a burrito with cinnamon black beans. It was unexpected how the cinnamon worked to well with the savory flavors of the burrito. I am now convinced that of it's taste transforming flavors and am eager to find more dishes, like this one.
SUMMER SALAD WITH FRESH BLUEBERRIES, WARM MOZZARELLA, AND A MAPLE CINNAMON DRESSING
makes 2 large salads
notes: this salad could be made with most greens, if you don't have access to arugula. You could use spinach, leaf lettuce, kale etc. Make sure to add the dressing ingredients and adjust flavor as necessary. I used a fairly sweet balsamic, therefore used a small amount of maple syrup. If you are using an acidic vinegar, you may want to add more maple syrup to balance out the flavors. Warm goat cheese would also be a perfect substitution for fresh mozzarella. It is important to serve this salad after the dressing gas been added, or the greens will become wilted quickly.
6 cups of arugula
1/2 cup of blueberries
1 shallot, sliced
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced almonds
3 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
In a large bowl, combine the arugula, blueberries, shallot slices, and cherry tomatoes. In a small jar with a tight fitting lid, add the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Place the lid on the jar and shake. Taste with your finger, and adjust seasonings as desired.
In a small frying pan with a bit of olive oil, warm the fresh mozzarella slices on low heat, for a few minutes on each side.
Slowly drizzle enough salad dressing over the greens to lightly coat. Toss gently. Plate the salad, sprinkle the almonds on top, and serve with warm mozzarella.