What a wonderful day. I am on holiday break, and have had several days off of work as well! As a grad student, I appreciate this so much more than as an undergrad. For the last 4 months, if I was not doing homework, I was feeling guilty about not doing homework. Not today! Today I can relax and do things that have been waiting to be done. I forgot how great it is to eat lunch at a table, not at a computer desk.
I love soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch. Yeah, this sounds boring and typical but they are so versatile! Here’s a summary of my first day of break:
My salad consisted of some baby romaine, sweet red peppers, onions, cucumbers, blueberries, cranberries and soynuts. And the dressing is leftover from dinner the other night. (*Cranberry and dressing explanation below!) The butternut squash soup is leftover also, and the hummus I made over the weekend. There are few things better than having already prepared delicious food just waiting to be eaten! Whoever said healthy food couldn’t be convenient did not realize what a little planning can do. This fresh, healthy and most importantly tasty lunch took me about 3 minutes to prepare! And for those 3 minutes, I had some expectant bystanders!
They got a little lunch of their own. Yes, Max and Daisy like salad. Don’t worry, this is not their typical meal.
*Kudos to my sister, Jayme, for the cranberries. She makes them for Thanksgiving as a treat, and I slightly altered them for a salad topping! All I do is bring some sugared water to a simmer. Usually I also add some orange juice and/or zest. Add the cranberries and remove from heat. Let them soak in the hot water for a few minutes, then put in the refrigerator to soak for a few hours, or overnight. Drain the water, and there you are. So, basically you are just starting cranberry sauce, but stopping before they begin to pop open. You do not want the berries to burst, or you will get a jelly-like sauce, not individual cranberries. These are great to add to salads, or just to snack on! If you want them to be sweeter, you can always sprinkle on a little more sugar.
I am going to post later about salads, but for now I will share this recipe. It tastes best right after it’s made and is warm, but is still great once chilled. I typically make a bunch and use it throughout the week.
Heat some olive oil in a small saucepan, add some diced onion and let that cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to caramelize. Add some garlic, and after a few minutes add some balsamic vinegar. I just let this simmer gently (make sure it is not bubbling much at all- you don’t want to burn it!) for about 20 minutes, to reduce the vinegar. This step is what makes this dressing; the vinegar becomes concentrated and sweeter, and mingles with the onion and garlic flavors. I then add some fruit (I’ve used raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) and let it simmer a little longer. Once I’m about ready to eat I just add some pepper and maple syrup or molasses. I blend that all with an immersion blender and then add an equal amount of olive oil. Yum! It’s a sweet dressing, nice and thick; very rich!