“There’s no subtext with the wedge (none of that “I’m healthy!”) Its only goal is to please” ~ Bon Appetit
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We had a multi-week stretch of near weather perfection in Iowa this spring.
Kind of like evenings at the beach or driving Florida's seven-mile bridge at midnight. As if just beyond our treelike was the wafting of the ocean's breezes instead of neighbor kids' trampoline. If I listened hard enough, I swore I could hear seagulls
Then it turned hot, dry, and windy, and they all flew away. An Iowa summer is hard-earned, hard-fought. It plays hard to get, that is until it doesn't
My afternoons lately have been spent in the garden. There's watering and weeding, planting and fretting. The peaceful quiet offering an abundance of time to think about a question on repeat at our house lately ..
“Why don't you go do that thing you've been wanting to do?”
– – —
How long has it been now since she sat next to me on a flight home from New York? It was at least a year before 9-11
I liked her from the minute we started talking, “Will you help me find the switch for the reading light?” She never introduced herself, but I saw on her landing card that her name was Rosemary.
Rosemary wore bright red nail polish, smelled like a backyard full of peonies, and had a snore as loud as our washing machine. Although when she asked me if she'd snored, I assured her that I hadn't heard a thing
Her parents were Italian missionaries, and she was born in Calcutta. She lived in Mumbai until she was nine then Australia then England until 1970 when her family moved to the U.S. She still had lots of relatives in Italy and went back to visit them every year
“Your generation is lucky. Traveling is so much easier now that it used to be”
Her father died in India many years ago, and because of how things worked back then, she wasn't able to make it in time for the funeral. We were silent for a while
As we came down out of the clouds, she stared out the window, and then turned to me and smiled. “I love the Iowa countryside .. the way everything is divided into mile-wide squares”
— — —
I found myself thinking about her this week as I stood in the garden, staring out over the cornfields. Feeling a little tired, kind of like jet lag because I'd woken up too early
Maybe I'll go see the Italian countryside – for her. That sounds like a wonderful idea. I wished I'd told her that my grandparents were missionaries too. I asked my grandmother once, out of all the places they've been in the world, what was her favorite?
“Italy .. there's nothing quite like it”
Or maybe I'll go to Switzerland. One of my favorite photos is of my brother and sister-in-law when they traveled there. A crisp blue day, the snow-capped mountains in the background, the camera perfectly capturing their essence.
Or maybe even Iceland, the place at the tippy-top of my husband's wish list. How I'd love to swim in one of their incredible pools
But then I think of, not just the places I'd like to go, but the things I'd like to do this summer – right here at home. We talked about some of those too
“I know .. I know. The kids are out of school. You have that road trip planned. Work is crazy right now. The calendar’s full of weddings, reunions, check-ups. Check, check, check, check. I get it.
But you must carve out the time.”
My summer wish list was born right then and there, hoe in hand, the garden hose watering my feet. Reminders etched into the dirt on my arm
Whatever it is, I think you should do them this summer,” Rosemary declared
We talked about life
“Please don't go it alone, it's really tough”
And our favorite summer meals.
“My husband makes the most incredible wedge salad. I could eat it every night”
Every now and again, when my husband and I find ourselves in a small town diner, a wedge salad will be one of the items on the menu. I'm never able to resist, especially one with the flavors of a BLT
There's nothing fancy about a BLT; it's simplicity at its finest. Although it requires a slight bit of attention to detail for that magical combination of flavors to hit all the right spots.
Here, decadent blue cheese dressing is draped over crispy and cold iceberg lettuce, the play of contrasting textures and temperatures get me every time. It's rich yet light, crunchy yet soft. The yin and yang of dinner recipes?
This salad would also be a great starter at your next dinner party or make a wonderful addition to any summer barbecue. (For appetizer portions make eight wedges instead of four)
~ Adapted from Bon Appetit | September 2013
The Ultimate BLT Wedge Salad
- Blue Cheese Dressing
- ½ small shallot, finely chopped
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt (the original calls for sour cream)
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- fine grain sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup mild blue cheese crumbles
- 4 oz bacon, cut into 1" thick pieces
- 1 small head iceberg lettuce
- 2 -3 Roma tomatoes, chopped small
- Optional Toppings
- chopped hard-boiled eggs
- crushed croutons
- In a skillet over medium-low heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp, stirring frequently (~ 5-7 minutes)
- Blue Cheese Dressing
- In a medium-sized bowl, add shallot, greek yogurt (or sour cream), buttermilk, chives, white wine vinegar, a strong pinch of sea salt, and a grind of black pepper
- Whisk to combine
- Fold in blue cheese crumbles
- (Adjust the consistency with additional Greek yogurt or buttermilk, as needed)
- Cut iceberg lettuce into 4 wedges (8 if they're going to be served as appetizers)
- Place on plates and spoon the dressing over
- Top with bacon, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, more crumbled blue cheese, and crumbled croutons