Strawberry Spinach Salad


A quick search online will yield an overwhelming number of strawberry spinach salads. Some have cheese, some slivered onions. But I think this one is best.

It’s one my mom pulled from the Washington Post ages ago, but I haven’t been able to find it on their website. The salad is quick to pull together, yet impressive enough for parties, where my mom has served it, several times. Share it with a few friends at a pool party, or just enjoy for a weekday lunch.

A tangy-sweet dressing, specked with poppy and sesame seeds clings to the spinach leaves. Almond slivers add a crunch, and the strawberries, of course, offer a sweet and colorful bite.

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Molly Wizenberg’s Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese


Books are piling up on the shelf and beside my bed again this summer. It’s nice–I’ve missed them. Many are related to food, others are thriftstore finds, and two are quick picks meant to fill the hours on my recent cross-country flight to visit my family for the Fourth.

My favorites so far–and if you’ve read them, you’ll understand–are Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life and the just-published Delancey, which chronicles the birth of their Seattle pizza restaurant. Recipes mix with stories of family, love, challenges and of course, food. So many pages are now dogeared, but the first recipe I tried was a simple one, a mealtime salad, one that reaffirms that salad shouldn’t be a swear word. “It’s handsome, delicious, and a little messy, like most good things in this life.”

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Warm Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad with Maple-Mustard Dressing; Packing Lunches for Long Days


Today is going to be a long day. Snow that’s slowly approaching on the radar may change my schedule for work–a 10 a.m. ceremony is already canceled, so keep your fingers crossed for meetings at noon, 1:30, 3 and 7 p.m., phew!–but either way, my meals are packed and prepped. Covering government meetings makes every other Tuesday challenging. I don’t particularly mind sitting in the board chambers, or listening to local elected officials volley ideas back and forth. There’s always something new to learn, and I feel so very fortunate to be a journalist. [Update: No meetings today!]

But honestly, if I can let you in on a little secret, what most concerns me is what I’m going to eat. With no microwave or refrigerator or even a table, what to pack for a lunch and/or dinner calls for creativity. I typically leave my lunch bag in my car for a few hours too, meaning nothing should be prone to spoilage. Peanut butter and jelly or banana is always a safe choice, but sometimes, I want some more vegetables, more flavor, more variety.

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Tomato, chickpea and feta salad with za’atar

Tomatoes picked from my parents’ garden weren’t the last of the year. Fittingly, with this summer-like heat hitting the East Coast this past weekend, Roberto’s stand at the farmers market had a stunning display of cherry tomatoes. Pints of yellow, pink, purple and red tomatoes–some round, some oblong, all beautiful–covered one of the tables.


I wasn’t the only one trying to cling to summer (despite having a bag full of apples, pears and acorn squash from Clyde), and one woman said that her kids would eat the tomatoes like candy. That’s encouraging to hear–especially since I didn’t like tomatoes until a few years back, despite promising my mother, at the age of three, “I’ll like tomatoes when I’m four!” It’s a running joke in my family, but now, when tomatoes are good, they’re GOOD. And the rest of the year, they’re best avoided. Continue reading “Tomato, chickpea and feta salad with za’atar”

Tomato bisque & homemade Focaccia

“What are you eating!”

My parents called that out at least a dozen times this weekend when Rachel and I visited. The question was directed at that crazy pup that likes to pick up everything she can–gloves, snow boots, sticks, thumbtacks, paper from the bathroom trashcan, Emma’s stuffed animals. And she doesn’t just pick these things up, like some dogs do. No, she wants to parade around the house before her new stash becomes a chew toy. Destination: ultimate destruction. Better grab that glove out of her mouth real fast!

Crazy pup also likes to be “helpful” in the kitchen, my mom quickly learned when we were cooking Tomato Bisque for lunch Sunday. Her nose wiggles up toward the counters, where my mom was chopping onions and carrots. She stands exactly where you need to be, like as my mom walked between the stovetop and the fridge with a pitcher of hot brewed tea. And if you’re washing dishes, you can bet she’ll want to lie down on the mat in front of the sink. (Unless the dishwasher is open, and then she’ll be trying to thoroughly clean all the plates and bowls.)

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Summer salad (or, what I like to eat and what the boyfriend hates)

Tom and I have quite different food tastes. Peas, onions, tomatoes? I love. He hates.

He realized this week he’s not a fan of creamy avocados, either, while I recently jumped for joy when I found a deal on a bag of four at Trader Joe’s.


Fried chicken? That’s a big “no” for this vegetarian. Tom jokingly asks me to make it all the time. So I did. In the form of sugar cookies 🙂


Fortunately, we do both like corn on the cob, especially the sweet, crisp corn in the middle of the summer. And Rachel likes our leftover cobs.

(Best way to cook corn? Leave it in the husks, soak it in water for a few minutes, then throw it on a hot grill for 15 or so minutes, turning occasionally. The silks will peel right off.)

We also like pie. He helped me make an outrageous blueberry-nectarine pie for Tuesdays with Dorie. It disappeared too fast.



I put together this quick summer salad/salsa for lunch just for myself one day when when Tom was at his own family’s home during his East Coast visit. It was good that I didn’t try to serve him a bowl of it, because when I made it again for a snack/dinner later in the week, he made a face at it! He ended up with a basic cheese quesadilla and his favorite 5-ingredient food processor salsa.


So if your name is “Tom,” you may hate this healthy dish: It has tomatoes, avocados and green onions! But if you’re anyone besides my boyfriend, you may absolutely love this summertime salad/salsa of bold flavors — tomatoes, corn, avocado and black beans.

Tomato, Corn, Avocado & Black Bean Salad 
This can be a meal on its own or a side dish. Eat with a fork or with chips. Be flexible. It’s delicious. These following amounts are very rough estimates, so change as desired. This could also be great with a little jalapeno, it you have some.

  • Half an avocado, cubed
  • Fresh corn, cooked, cut off the ear
  • 1-2 green onions
  • About a half-cup tomatoes — mix up any kinds you have around. I cubed one tomato from my garden and halved a handful of colorful farmers market tomatoes.
  • About a half-cup of black beans.
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all vegetables together in a bowl. Add a squirt of fresh lemon juice, a tiny, tiny bit of oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!