Now that the weekdays have returned and I'm once again cooking alone until the next weekend Zach is able to come home from his out of town clinical rotations, I've discovered one thing thus far since I first began musing about dining by oneself : having meals outdoors makes me much more inclined to actually prepare a recipe for myself instead of resorting to cold cereal again. Even though I've been having meals outside frequently enough now that the novelty should have dissipated, something about the notion of creating a picnic just for me, complete with the backdrop of yellow daffodils and pale pink flowering pear blossoms, urges me to create a dish worthy of such a setting, and helps me look forward to mealtimes instead of simply pairing them with laundry-folding or bill-paying as one more evening event.
I suppose I should clarify that "mealtimes" actually just refers to dinners in my case, as breakfast is consumed while blinking sleepily at the operating room schedule at 6AM, and lunch, fortunately, occurs amidst much good cheer with the company of my wonderful co-workers. Dinner-time alone remains the meal I shared with Zach every weekday, and dinner usually manages to jilt me sharply from the days when I cooked for one quite contentedly, and reminds me instead of Zach's absence, and how long the interval between his weekends home can seem!
For now, though, I take the advice of many an essayist in the excellent collection Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant , and prepare a proper place-setting for myself on the patio table, then assemble a meal usually simple yet nourishing... Such as tonight, when I find myself gathering together an unhurried, utterly unfussy meal that reminds me comfortingly of my days in Israel - whole wheat pita bread, hummus, and a simple Spring salad...
A Simple Spring Salad
*Note: the dressing makes several servings, but the quantities for the salad ingredients serve one, with the notion of leftover dressing for future salad... Feel free to multiply the quantities for he salad or the dressing as you fancy!
3 T olive oil 2 tsp Dijon mustard 2 T balsamic vinegar 1 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves 2 T dried cranberries 1 T chopped walnuts
~ In a jar or bowl, vigorously whisk together the olive oil, mustard, and vinegar to make the dressing. ~ Place the spinach leaves in a bowl, and scatter the cranberries and walnuts on top. Drizzle the spinach leaves with a bit of the dressing, saving the rest of the dressing in a tightly sealed jar to gild additional salads!