Tomorrow we head out of town, driving to, and then all around, New York State. First to see Ben’s family in Syracuse, for a late Christmas celebration. Then off to the Catskills, where I’ll drop off my mountain-man husband for a few days of hiking. While Ben’s adding to his collection of winter-time summits, I’ll be bumming around the Hudson Valley, staying with friends, popping into some favorite restaurants, and visiting my old stomping grounds. Then it’s off to Binghamton together for a few nights of delicious revelry with Ralph & Bill, before we make the trek back home again. It’s sure to be a whirl wind tour, as it is every year. I can’t wait!
Like happens before any trip, I’ve been trying to use up everything in the fridge, over the last few days. This afternoon, hungry for a quick lunch, and knowing it was my last chance to rescue a particularly pristine bunch of baby spinach from a wilting, neglectful death, I salvaged it from the back corner of the fridge and dropped it into a big salad bowl. I found half a dozen cherry-like radishes in the vegetable drawer, so gave them a rinse, sliced them thin, and tossed them in too. Pushing aside the butter and a big block of Parmesan, I was delighted to discover a small bit of left-over goat cheese hiding in the dairy drawer, from where or when exactly, I have no clue. No matter, it was still perfectly fine. What a find! I crumbled it into small, fluffy dollops, and into the bowl they went. From the cupboards, a few handfuls of pecans, and a generous scoop of chewy raisins. An extra round of searching through the fridge yielded half a red onion, wrapped up tight in plastic. A few thin, pink slices of this too, were tossed into the salad bowl. On top I drizzled the last few drops of the poppy seed vinaigrette we had left-over from a dinnertime salad a few nights ago. A quick toss with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and I was ready to sit down and dig in!
But then I suddenly spied the big bowl of Clementines on the kitchen countertop, waiting to be packed up tomorrow as a car-ride treat. Not content to wait patiently, they were just begging to be included today. And I couldn’t resist them either. It was a big bowl, after all. A couple or three wouldn’t be missed on the trip. So quick as a wink, I popped the Clementines out of their easy-peeling skins, and scattered their half-moon segments into my giant salad of growing goodness.
And wow, what a final touch those Clementines turned out to be. Bright, juicy bursts of fresh orange flavor. Just the thing to really round out this mix-and-match lunch. And who would have thought that all those last and lost tidbits just floating around could come together into such a fantastic salad! A perfect salad, really. With a touch or two of sweetness , a nice hint of tartness, and rounded out by subtle doses of spice and earthiness. And the textures too, were as well-rounded as the flavors. Crunchy here, creamy there, crisp and juicy and tender and chewy – all of these in every bite. I was so delighted with the surprising end results, I just had to share it with you. And who knows, maybe you all have most of these ingredients just hanging around your kitchen too!