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Arugula Salad with Whole-Lemon Dressing
apparently it’s over now
things you’ll need: arugula, sliced or slivered almonds (toasted), an entire lemon, honey (or sugar/maple), garlic/shallot, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper.
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By now you know that I love lemon and this uses THE WHOLE THING. How exciting? So exciting. When I saw this recipe (from Sheela Prakash’s upcoming book, Salad Seasons: Vegetable-Forward Dishes All Year) featured in Emily Nunn’s Substack: The Department of Salad, I could already taste it. I made it as a side dish and used the extra dressing on the piece of halibut I’d made to go with it. Add it to the list of things to put on fish.
incidentally gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan (sub sugar/maple for honey).
On May 11, while you were going about your life and trying to think of another salad to make, COVID stopped being a public health emergency, officially, 1,200 days after its declaration. It’s been over for a while and doesn’t feel over at all. A 1,200 day adjustment period, and you are still figuring things out. You’re inventorying all the changes and still redefining your understanding of normal, danger, risk, and recovery.
You used to accept a lot of things that are not a part of your normal anymore. You count each good riddance and find yourself grateful for the pressure it took to make each shift. Other nostalgias open spots of grief for all you lost in the year that lasted for 3 years.
You’ve made promises to yourself and there are things you will never go back to. You’ve repaved your path in new directions with better intentions or, at the least, better shoes and more comfortable clothes. You might be a bit lost, but at least you’re not back there anymore.
You’ve taken the time to sharpen your knife and cut to the core of what you really need, whether through fear, necessity, quiet contemplation, or whatever was revealed as you cut back the excess and vexing. You may not have it all yet, but you can recognize it now. You know the shape. More than anything, you know what it is not.
What you need, right now, is more salad. All the salads. You want more cheese. You have had a lot of cheese. Have another bite of cheese, but you also need something green and bright. You need lemon (because you always need lemon) and a big bowl of leafy greens.
Wash your lemon. If you have a little bottle of vinegar solution (1:4 vinegar:water) or veggie wash, spray down the fruit and let it sit for about 5 minutes, then give it a rinse and pat dry. You don’t want to eat all the hands that have touched it, even if they don’t have COVID. Trim the ends, which are more like tops and bottoms, and then cut the lemon into quarters and remove the seeds.
Toss it in a food processor or a blender that refuses to be defined by its shape when it is perfectly capable of processing the hell out of this lemon. Pulse a few times until the processing feels a little less violent and the lemon is broken down to smaller chunks. Check for wayward seeds.
Add a few Tablespoons of toasted almonds (slivered or sliced), a clove of garlic (or roughly chopped shallot), a squeeze of honey (to balance the bitterness of the rind), and a good measure of salt.
Pulse, chop, and blend until there’s still a little texture, but it’s mostly all chopped up. Add the almost pulp to a jar/container with a good seal (the one you use to shake dressings) and add ¼ cup of olive oil. Shake to combine. Add more salt and/or honey to taste and a few cracks of black pepper.
Dress a box of arugula with a few plops of dressing and mix until well coated. Add a little more than you think you need. Finish the salad with a few more tablespoons of toasted almonds.
1,200 days later and you still aren’t always sure what day of the week it is, but you know how far you’ve come. You’ve made and remade several lives, trimming back all the noise to find the heart of your comfort, your disquiet, and the tender spot you call home.
It’s over (and never over) and the day is as bright and welcoming as the bowl before you.
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