We’re spontaneous people in theory. But in actuality, we’re just negligent planners. Adding something to the calendar more than two weeks out gives me a little anxiety. And planning a trip that involves doing things besides heading to the lake or the beach is out of the question. When we go out to dinner or coffee, we go to the same spots. It pains me to spend money on things I might not enjoy, and Kev has this knack of attaching monetary values to everything from parking to a glass of wine. What I’m trying to tell you is that we have issues. Someone plan a trip to Europe and take us?
We haven’t navigated the waters of dating post-baby so well. The monetary value of a date has nearly doubled with a babysitter. It’s paralyzing. So I’ve enacted a spontaneous rule. How’s that for an oxymoron? If it’s snowing after we put Hal down to bed, then we head to our room. We’re not hang-out-in-the-bedroom kind of people. We sleep there. That’s it. But we have two windows that face a parking garage. It’s as romantic as it sounds. Vavavoom! The top of the garage is in line with our vision, and the parking lot lights, that usually look like a space ship landing in our backyard, catch the snow perfectly through their permeating rays.
We call this a date. And watch the snow fall and talk. It’s unplanned because it’s not on the calendar. This is why I consider myself spontaneous.
In the sea of white and grey this time of year, which I am so very drawn to, comes the brilliant colors of citrus. It’s magic the way the citrus meat catches the light, maybe even more so than the parking lot lights catching the snow.
This Winter Citrus Salad is our “house salad” for the season. Though, soon enough, it will be replaced with the Italian Summer Salad again. Peppery arugula. Sweet, thin slices of citrus. Farm-fresh feta. Sunflower seeds. Butter toasted panko. And a light citrus vinaigrette. She’s crisp, simple, and bright.
Valentine’s Day is coming. We used to switch off on planning, but we’ve long since forgotten whose turn it is. I’m praying for a late evening snowfall. We’ll probably make this salad. And a version of this pasta topped with this dressing plus a touch of heavy cream. Neither take much forethought and come together fairly quick. Almost spontaneously.
1/3 c. grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
squirt of honey
kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Ahead of time or just before, make toasted bread crumbs. Melt butter in a sauté pan. Add in panko and toast until golden. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. If making ahead of time, allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
Likewise, ahead of time or just before, make dressing. To a small bowl, add fresh squeezed orange juice, vinegar, and dijon mustard. Whisk together until well combined. Slowly stir in oil until emulsified. The vinegar and oil will become one. Season with a squirt of honey, kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
Prepare the salad. Peel citrus using this method. Then cut into thin slices. Add arugula to large communal bowl or individual salad plates. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs. Add citrus slices, sunflower seeds, and feta. Serve dressing alongside salad.