But I also realize I'm getting old. The top of my head has more white hair than I care to count and suddenly wrinkles that used to get smoothed away by relaxing my face are now etched in my skin; no amount of relaxation erases them. No amount of skin cream either for that matter. And suddenly the end of my life looms much closer than the start of my life, as I am that much closer to the end.
So I find myself in a state of slight melancholy. I want to vacation, but technically can't and I'm not getting any younger. The white hairs that continually sprout remind me the direction in which my life is going. And it's not fun thinking about it all the time. There are moments when thinking about the end of your life makes you blue. I don't like being blue, so generally I try and cheer myself up by thinking or imagining my life if I COULD take said vacation.
Today in the midst of a blue moment, I decided that if given the opportunity, Italy would be where I would go next. I want the warm sun, the yummy pasta, the basil, the tomatoes, gelato; Italy in summer would be ideal. As I have no such plans in the immediate, I decided to transport myself with the flavors of the place I wanted to go and leave it at that. This salad had to be evocative enough to count as a vacation. It didn't quite do that but it was a pretty tasty salad and everyone I have served it to loves it. It's simple, it's delicious and it's good enough for company. So it doesn't quite beat taking you on vacation, but having satisfied people around the table is good enough. (or so I tell myself that.)
2 heads of romaine lettuce, washed, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup of arugula, washed
3 cups of tomatoes (roma, grape tomatoes, or some other super flavorful tomato)
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup of basil, chopped
2 balls fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed (I get the Italian imported one from Costco)
Place romaine and arugula in a large salad. Sprinkle tomatoes, shallots and basil on top. Top with mozzarella cheese and croutons. Drizzle dressing on top and toss and serve.
6 cups of cubed bread (pugliese or some other French bread is fine)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
Whisk ingredients together. Pour over salad.
I can almost imagine myself somewhere else...