UGH jetlag is the worst. Despite borderline overdosing on melatonin in the last three days, last night I felt like I was going to pass out around 7pm, drank an ill-advised Malaysian iced coffee from a food court (more like a watery milkshake) around 8pm, was wired until 1am, finally slept until 5:00am, and then weirdly, passionately craved potato chips around 7:45am.
Anyway! I miss Montreal a lot. One of the most fun change-ups of my daily routine was relegating lunch to the least interesting meal of the day. I mean that in the best way possible. In Portland, lunch tends to be my special, ‘big’ meal, while I often skip breakfast and snack on lunch leftovers for dinner. In Montreal, lunch tended to be super casual and more modest, as it was bookended by one (or two) breakfasts and a magnificent dinner. Our midday routine quickly became sandwiches, potato chips and ginger ale, which happens to be one of my favorite meals of all time, so I’m not complaining, obviously.
But this lunch was a little more special than the others. We had enjoyed a gigantic chopped salad the night before, and I was still on a raw vegetable kick. I lamely called this “Salad, Three Ways.”
Salads are the most foolproof ways to cook without using a recipe. I usually consider things like flavor, texture and appearance, usually trying to squeeze in as many ingredients as I can before things get legitimately out of control. Splitting up my impulses into three salads makes my cooking way more manageable.
Salad #1: Bitter and crunchy. Chopped lettuce, crescents of white Belgian endives, slivers of red radishes, toasted pecans, and Persian cucumbers sliced on the diagonal. To balance the bitter, I made a sweet beet vinaigrette, which was basically my lemon vinaigrette with beets mashed into the dressing, turning it a lovely fuschia hue.
Salad #2: Tart and sweet. Diced cantaloupe, cubes of roasted beets, toasted sesame seeds, ribbons of fresh mint and basil, crushed pistachios, orange zest. I was still craving the feta and watermelon salad that we, sadly, never enjoyed, so I made this more refreshing version instead. I love how beets stain everything around it a wonderful pale pink, and in this case, it transformed my cantaloupe into a passable faux-watermelon. Craving crisis averted.
Salad #3: Warm and salty. Whole wheat fusilli, flash fried kale and shallots, roasted garlic, fresh squeezes of lemon juice, grated Pecorino, pine nuts. This is a dinner standby for me, but it’s solid and sturdy and always makes me feel great.