Monday morning began slowly, as they often do. It was the sort of weekend that could have used an additional day to recover but I had days of work to catch up with only a single day to make that happen. But there I sat, at my desk, motionless.
“Seeking inspiration,” I began to type. No. “In need of a good dose of inspiration.” Nope.
I couldn’t even manage to write a tweet worthy of posting in order to ask for a bit of something, anything, that might encourage me to start working.
My entire body longed for the sort of internal pick-me-up that would set me on the course for an efficient day and one that would flood my weary body with the creative energy I need to thrive. Instead I opened my inbox and began sorting through the sixty unread emails, one by one.
Later that day I found myself at the grocery store. I hadn’t wanted to go but I stepped in through the sliding doors and smelled basil, sweet and softly liquorice scented. Two aisles were just for stone fruits with four different varieties of Pluots and yet another called an Aprium. I smelled each variety and put a few of each into a brown paper bag with no plans or recipe in mind, I just needed to have them. Suddenly I was reeling with ideas for dinner and many meals beyond that.
I bought 5 ears of sweet corn for the Ashley in February who will long for the wooden crate in the market to be filled with the vibrant green covered corn complete with stringy husks and variegated sweet kernels.
I knew the tomatoes would make me weak with their flesh in shades of reds, oranges, yellows and greens. It was the purple tinted cherry tomatoes that I grabbed along with a few heavy heirlooms that ended up as yesterday’s lunch on garlic-rubbed and toasted bread.
From two aisles over I spotted the figs. They are expensive, those figs, and I’ve fallen for their charm before while trying to relive the taste of the ones I plucked off the tree on some abandoned road in Italy. Or the sweet, seedy flesh of those that the farmers in pickup trucks would deliver to Spago. But most the time I end up with a sad representation of those dreamy figs and regretting the $5 I spent on a small basket of them. Not this time. In order to lure those of us who get soft at the sight of their ruby interior made even more shocking next to their chartreuse skin, there were a few whose flesh had been cut into. I grabbed a basket then headed straight for the melons with plans to replicate a salad I hadn’t stopped thinking since the days I’d enjoyed it.
I couldn’t remember it exactly so did my best to make a vinaigrette bright with lemon and just creamy enough to feel indulgent. Frankly, I didn’t rely too heavily on the vinaigrette knowing that it just needed to not out-do the produce that it would cover. Like make-up well done, it only needed to enhance what was already stunning. Just when I thought I was ready to start thinking about squash, apples and cool evenings I find these figs and want to hold on to summer until I’ve had my fill.
Fig and Melon Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tsp champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Salt and lots of pepper
1/2 head red lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 small tuscan melon peeled, seeded and cubed or sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
5-7 fresh, ripe figs quartered
Combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings remembering that the melon and figs are both sweet so you want the vinaigrette to be quite bright and pop-y.
Toss the melon, lettuce and red onion in a bowl along with the vinaigrette.
Put the dressed greens on a platter and finish with the fresh figs along with some crumbled feta.
Prosciutto Sandwich with Arugula and White Truffle
scant 1/2 pound prosciutto
3 cups arugula
white truffle oil
Cut the baguette and spread butter on both sides of the bread. Fill the sandwich with the prosciutto.
In a small bowl drizzle the arugula with just a bit of white truffle oil. I prefer the truffle flavor to be soft and subtle so I only added about 10 small drops of oil.
Fill the sandwich with the arugula. Slice the baguette into smaller portions and serve with the fig and melon salad.