CAESAR SALAD

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I found a pair of these glass amaryllis ornaments at an estate sale.  Not sure about hanging them on a tree–they’re nearly a foot tall — but I liked all the sparkly detail, and thought I could find some other way to display them — maybe standing up in a pot with some dried moss.

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I look forward to having amaryllis bulbs bloom in my house every winter.   I usually send one or two to my Dad for him to enjoy too, because he loves them and is the person who first taught me to appreciate their beauty.  Last year my Dad and I had something of a competition going with our bulbs.  He kept telling me how awesome his bulb was, and how many stalks and buds it was putting out.  I told him that my bulb had three stalks with buds, which is something of a rarity for us.  He didn’t believe me until I sent him pictures of the bulb in bloom.

amaryllisbuds

Three stalks with buds

bloomingamaryllis

This bulb was quite a show-off

What is it about things in threes that’s so special?  According to Wikipedia, the “rule of three” is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of things is  ”inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective” than other multiples of things.  Like “snap, crackle, and pop” or “Huey, Dewey, and Louie.”  The Latin phrase, omne trium perfectum (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete) is a variation of the rule of three.  Although when it comes to kids, I’m pretty glad we stopped at two.

And so the saying goes that good things come in threes.  Perhaps that’s why good fairies and genies grant three wishes.  And everyone know that the third time’s a charm. But there’s another saying that misfortunes never come singly.  So if good things come in threes, what multiple do bad things come in?  I believe the answer to that question is that bad things come in poopstorms.  And I think that this is because when something bad happens in our life, we tend to start looking for all the other bad things surrounding us, and start adding everyday annoyances–like the dishwasher broke, the dog has an ear infection–to the list of bad things.  When things are going well, those small matters don’t even register, and we’re more inclined to count our blessings.

Caesar salad is one of my family’s favorite salads.  It’s simple enough to make, but keeping with the theme of things in threes that inspired this post, there are three surefire ways to ruin it — a veritable trifecta of no-nos.

No-no number 1 is:

lemon juice

I’m not sure what I’d ever use bottled lemon juice for, but I certainly wouldn’t use it in a fresh salad.  Buy a lemon!

No-no number 2 is:

kraft

Any resemblance to parmigiano reggiano cheese is purely coincidental, and this product lacks all of the taste and texture of the real stuff.  I’m hardly the first person to describe this as sawdust.  Perhaps the sawdust-like quality of this product is related to the addition of cellulose powder “to prevent caking.”  Cellulose powder is, after all, a product obtained from wood pulp.  According to this article from Forbes, Kraft Parmesan Cheese is “far enough from the real thing that Kraft was legally forced to stop selling its cheese labeled Parmesan in Europe.”  So why would you want to put it in your salad?

No-no number 3 is:

croutons

These are just salt cubes.  It’s so easy to make your own delicious croutons, and a great way to use leftover bread – just cube the bread (a baguette or loaf of sourdough bread works great), toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, spread out on a cookie sheet, season to taste (we like salt, pepper, and a few red pepper flakes, sometimes a little garlic powder), and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp:

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Our family’s version of Caesar Salad is adapted from Anthony’s Caesar Salad, a specialty at Anthony’s, a wonderful Vallone family restaurant that closed a decade ago.  Our recipe doesn’t use anchovies, because we think they look like eyebrows, and the salad has enough salty flavors without them, and it also uses half of the unconscionable amount of olive oil.  It’s fresh and crisp and lemony, and great any time of the year.

CAESAR SALAD
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Recipe type: Salad
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 heads romaine lettuce, cleaned, rinsed, and torn into pieces
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅔ cup grated parmigiano reggiano or romano cheese
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Dry romaine, and keep chilled in refrigerator until just before serving. Mash garlic with a little kosher salt until it forms a paste. Transfer garlic to a medium mixing bowl and whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and vinegar until smooth. Slowly whisk in olive oil, until smooth. Stir in grated cheese.
  2. Just before serving, place lettuce in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing over, season to taste with black pepper, and toss to combine. Add croutons, toss again, and serve.

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 The dressing is ready to go

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 Hail Caesar!

QUINOA SALAD WITH PISTACHIOS AND APRICOTS

krogeringHard to believe, I know, but true.  And guess what — love is in the air at the grocery store.  There was a whole aisle of Valentine’s Day candy and gifts:

krogerRows of heart-shaped candy boxes just waiting to be given to some lucky person by some person who’s hoping to get lucky:

heart boxesHow about a box or two of heart-shaped Little Debbie cakes?

little debbies

But when you come right down to it, nothing quite says “I love you” like a heart-shaped pork chop:

porkchopI’m still recovering from the last round of holidays, and can’t even think about Valentine’s Day until after the Super Bowl and Chinese New Year.  And like these tenacious winter berries still clinging to their branch . . .IMG_3200

IMG_3200 (2). . . I am still clinging to the hope of keeping at least a few of my New Year’s resolutions.  Eating healthier, of course, is one of them, and this recipe for Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Apricots was a definite step in the right direction.  If you can make it a day in advance, you’ll find that the pistachios and apricots soften and the flavors blend together deliciously.

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Recipe type: Salads
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ½ cup diced dried apricots
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • ½ cup arugula sprouts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. In a medium bowl, mix together quinoa, pistachios, orange zest, apricots, and shallots. Pour dressing over. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, mix in arugula sprouts, reserving a few for garnish.

 

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