At 7 pm tonight, I stepped outside, closed my eyes, and listened.
Save for the tranquil evening hum of crickets, distant lawn mowers, and early evening frolickers, the din of earlier weeks has dissipated into late summer calm. I took a deep breath. The air was rich with the aroma of warm earth and grass, lush foliage, and the distinctive scent of charcoal grills.
I must remind myself that these summer days and nights are precious. Yes, there’s been plenty of activity, but the pace is still markedly summer. Before I know it, fall will be here, along with the catalogs and commercials, urging me to buy Chia pets for Christmas.
So before summer slips away, I’m discontinuing complaints of the heat and instead spending my time venerating these remaining dog days in small, yet meaningful, ways. Here’s how I began this evening:
Step one. Kick off my shoes and run through the sprinkler. I should note that this began as a simple chore, to water the plants. But Nick commandeered the exercise and before I knew it, we were both (happily) soaked.
Step two. Read myself silly. Currently, with Ian McEwan’s latest book, On Chesil Beach.
Step three. Break some dinner rules. Specifically, skip the entrée and transform one of my go-to lunch salads into supper.
I make chopped Greek salad for lunch often—I chop and toss into a storage container and I have three days of lunches. But I knew it wouldn’t be hearty enough for dinner, so I added a can of rinsed cannellini beans. Chickpeas would be wonderful, too, but cannellini is what I had on hand. So easy, and so summery; you don’t need anything else except some crusty bread (we had some leftover olive bread, and hummus). Plus, the super-quick prep meant there was more time to relax and very little clean-up.
Greek Salad with Cannelini & Feta
1 hothouse (seedless) cucumber, diced into1/2-inch pieces
4 Roma tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small red onion, quartered, thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (or other white beans), drained, rinsed, patted dry
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
4 ounces feta cheese, cubed
1 5-ounce package pre-washed baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Optional: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Combine the cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, onion, beans, olives, feta and spinach in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil, vinegar, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Spoon onto plates or bowls. Makes 4 main-dish servings
Nutrition per Serving (1/4 of salad):
Calories 189; Fat 4.7g (sat 0.8g, mono 2.8g, poly 0.5g); Protein 16.1g; Cholesterol 9mg; Carbohydrate 10.2g; Sodium 317mg.
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)