It’s hard to imagine that summer is winding down and that cooler weather is just around the corner. It’s been incredibly hot here in Portland for the last few weeks, and it’s made it difficult to consider cooking on a regular basis. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a fog mentally and inspiration has been fleeting. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting on a regular basis, the last year has been trying, and some days it’s an accomplishment just to get out of the house.
I’m adjusting to a life that is completely different from the one I’ve known for as long as I can remember and most of my energy the last year has been directed at getting my son to a happy and healthy place. I think with a lot of work and care we are finally finding our new normal, and it’s time to start working on myself. I realize that I am really good at supporting others to reach their goals at the expense of my own dreams and desires. It’s been so long since I allowed myself to dream that I find myself at a bit of a loss. What do I do now? Where do I start? How do I reinvent myself at my age?
I’ve decided the first step to finding purpose is to go back to school. I’m going to start with a few classes and explore some possibilities and hope that something clicks. I”m nervous but excited to start a new chapter in my life and am looking forward to some new adventures.
Cooking has been a challenge thanks to the heat and we’ve been trying to eat very cleanly which some days results in us eating the same thing over and over. I desperately wanted to find an alternative way to enjoy our veggie based salads and decided to give the grill a try. Lettuce is amazing on the grill, the smoke imparts an intensity of flavor and the lettuce becomes unctuous and tender after only a few minutes on the grill. This makes an excellent light lunch or if you want something a bit heavier consider a can of chickpeas mixed with the vinaigrette or some grilled shrimp or chicken layered on top. If you can’t find baby squash, try to find smaller summer squash and then sliced into 1/4 inch slices.
I love this salad. It’s satisfying, healthy but just different enough to be special. It doesn’t take a lot of time to put together and lends itself to lots of variations. Since I made this, I’ve added grilled eggplant and green beans but you could experiment with any of your favorite vegetables on the grill.
If you make any of this dark chocolate sweet potato pudding, be sure to tag #scalingback on Instagram – I love seeing what you create in your kitchen! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat (username: scalingback)
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup shallot, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon tarragon, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- For the salad:
- 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound baby squash, cut in half lengthwise
- 4 heads of baby romaine lettuce or 2 large heads
- 2 heads of radicchio
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make the dressing. Add the shallots, sherry vinegar, mustard, and tarragon to a large mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing begins to emulsify. Add the salt and pepper, taste and add more if desired.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the vinaigrette, mixing gently. Set aside and allow to marinate as you grill the vegetables.
- Toss the squash in a medium bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper (about ¼ teaspoon) Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat and add the squash to the pan cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side until the squash has taken on color and started to soften. Trim the lettuce and radicchio and cut in half if using small heads or quarters if you are using large heads. Toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and grill cut side down for 2 minutes, turn and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Allow the squash to take on some color and wilt slightly but don't overcook.
- Plate 3-4 halves of lettuce, divide the squash into quarters and then drizzle with a few tablespoons of the tomato vinaigrette mixture.