In this case, it was the birthday that was big, but the salad could be, too.
You have to admire a woman who insists on making the salad herself at her own catered birthday party, as my friend Lisa did. Especially when she also chooses to use our dressing!
The salad can be any size you want, it’s just that easy. If there’s one particular ingredient you like a lot – heap it in. You don’t like another – leave it out.
But the key here is the combination of the flavors – the aromatic fennel, the sweet oranges – and all the while the spinach provides a mellow base, the perfect canvas on which all the other ingredients can shine. It’s also beyond easy, so great for a party where you can keep making more as it is gobbled up (which is exactly what happened at Lisa’s party).
This salad was originally made to serve a big crowd. I’ve scaled it down in size to feed a family of four. Even though it’s a smaller version of what Lisa served at her party, this is forever known as the BIG Birthday Salad.
(Whether she was celebrating her 21st, 30th, 40th or 50th birthday, I’ll never tell!)
Slowing down, and savoring the moment is key to feeling balance (though we know the slowing down part is often easier said than done). It’s also the secret to enjoying this salad since the window for enjoying fresh figs seems to close as quick as it opens. On the surface, this is a ridiculously simple salad. No fuss, just our Blackberry Vinaigrette paired with peppery baby arugula, fresh figs, and tendrils of shaved Pecorino cheese (Parmigiana works beautifully, too). It offers a lovely way to end the meal, but also works well as a side salad, served with grilled fish.
Sushi is wildly popular in my house – so popular that I had to start making my own once my children’s appetites began exceeding my budget.
Of course, whether or not what I make is actually “sushi” is subject to interpretation. Usually it looks like sushi in that it’s rice wrapped in Nori , but that may be where the likeness begins and ends. I use those two ingredients as a departure point to put all sorts of things in the middle knowing they’ll be devoured!
But rolling sushi for my children to take to school for lunch is not going to happen, love them though I do. However, I can do the next best thing and make a sushi bowl rather than a sushi roll. Imagine all the ingredients of sushi, without the meticulous labor.
You can add tofu, carrots, avocado, cucumber, spinach, broccoli, green beans or get creative and add salmon and a little cream-cheese or avocado, kohlrabi and pesto. Just pick whatever your child likes (or tolerates) and include it.
It’s a great way to add some fresh ideas to lunch.
It feels almost silly to share this recipe for Crispy Baked Kale Chips considering how many recipes already exist online. Really, I’m writing about them today to remind everyone how easy they are to make at home compared to buying them (and a lot less expensive, too). They’re the perfect snack to pack in school lunches.
Some recipes direct you to blast the kale with heat as high at 400ºF. I’ve been guilty of that in the past, too. Time and experience making many batches of kale chips have taught me that a little patience goes a long way. Low and slower is the way to go.
A 15 to 20 minute bake at 325ºF does the job nicely. Stirring the kale every 5 minutes is fussy-sounding but key in making sure they dry out properly without burning in spots. I love using Tuscan kale, but curly green kale will work fine. Those heads tend to be larger, so you’ll likely need to use two pans. Also, a little oil goes a long way. Don’t worry if they seem too dry after rubbing with such a small amount. The kale releases moisture as it bakes in the oven. Too much oil, and you’ll have greasy kale chips (been there, done that).
As our Facebook and Instagram feeds fill with back to school photos, it’s hard to believe summer is coming to a close. That also means it’s time to pack school lunches again. One thing I’ve always loved about this daily ritual is it provides a way to connect with my daughters when I’m not actually with them.
At ages 8 and 13, they take pride in packing their own lunches, but thankfully they still let me lend a hand the rest of the time. Bento boxes are all the rage, but don’t let rice shaped into cute little bears intimidate you from using them. A homemade lunch can be creative in what you pack without needing to sign up for master craft classes.
I love bento boxes because they rescue plastic and paper from the landfills. They also offer an actual dining experience—think of them as portable, self-contained plates. My daughters love the feeling of surprise as they open them to see what mom tucked into each compartment. So, it was a natural for us to partner with ECOlunchboxes on some back to school recipes. Sophia already uses them for her kids. They graciously sent me a few to test drive. We used them for a summer picnic, proving that these 3-in-1 nesting lunchboxes are useful year-round.
I decided to repurpose some leftovers for one lunch. Heating up last night’s dinner for the next day’s lunch isn’t a new idea. Turning it into something totally different, though, gives new life to leftovers. The resulting main course was Rice & Bean Lettuce Cups. They’re a spin on vegetarian tacos, sans the tortillas. Hope your kiddos love them as much as mine.
Here’s the recipe.