Sigh. I'm pausing to enjoy how incredibly, comfortably normal this post feels...
After the crazy whirlwind of the last few months, (culminating with a whirlwind rainy/blustry/windy/sleety/totally gorgeous, unforgettable night and followed by seven blissful days in St. Lucia), I am so happy to just get back to life (married life!) and cooking and FOOD!
And just in time for Spring (asparagus and baby lettuces, oh my!)! While we were on honeymoon, I indulged myself with the April issue of Gourmet magazine, a virtual conocopia of fresh, seasonally-inspired recipes. Even while lounging on a perfect sugar-sand beach while the waves lapped at my toes I found myself wistful for my yellow flower apron and brand new pots & pans. Is that wrong?
On our first day back in the US, I decided to spoil JiT (and myself) with a special homecoming meal inspired by some of the recipes in Gourmet:
- Spring salad marrying fresh mozzarella cheese, cucumber moons, lentils, watercress and basil all topped with a lemony vinagrette. Yum!
- Cheese tortellini with asparagus in a thyme and lemon-infused cream sauce, topped with pan-seared garlic-lemon chicken breasts
As JiT pushed back his scraped-clean plate, he leaned over and whispered "You're the best wife ever." Sigh....amazing how changing one little word can make normal life seem absolutely blissful.
Below I've provided my version of the spring salad, since I took some serious liberties from the original recipe. For the tortellini, I followed the recipe almost verbatim, so I'll refer you to the latest issue of Gourmet. Do pick one up; you won't regret it!
Spring Salad with Cucumber Moons & Fresh Mozzarella
I wouldn't normally think to combine these ingredients, but they marry quite well. The fresh burst from the cucumbers plays off of the creamy tang of the cheese. The lentils add an earthy, chewy bite while the basil provides a spicey freshness. A celebration of spring (and perhaps a starter for Easter dinner??).
Juice from 1 lemon (about 4 Tbs.)
3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of green lentils, cooked according to package directions and chilled
1 medium size cucumber, sliced lengthwise and seeded, then sliced into half-moons
1 package fresh mozzarella cheese balls, drained and sliced into medallions
1 bunch watercress, rinsed, patted dry and stems removed
1 small handfull of fresh basil, torn into bite-size pieces
Freshly ground sea salt & black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste. In another small bowl, pour half of the vinagrette over the lentils and toss unti combined.
To plate the salads, arrange 4 or 5 cucumber moons in the center of each serving plate in a flower shape. Top with 4 or 5 slices of cheese, then another layer of cucumber slices. Spoon 1/4 of the lentil mixture over the cucumbers. Place a handful of watercress and some of the basil on top of the lentils. Drizzle lightly with the a quarter of the remaining vinagrette and dust lightly with salt & pepper. Repeat with remaining plates and serve immediately.
On a side note, for those that are interested, I've posted some pics from our honeymoon on my flickr page. I'm hoping to add some photos from the wedding once I've collected a few...it still feels vaguely like I dreamt the whole thing!