While reflecting on my father-in-law’s wedding last weekend, this is the sentiment that comes to mind. I can still feel the warm Ojai breezes; see the soft glow of the Ojai “pink moment” as it fades and then is replaced by the warmth of soft candlelight. As I sit at the dinner table I am welcomed by a beautiful table-scape that mirrors the sunset with its varying orange and purple hues. It is accompanied by a soft soundtrack of excited conversation of friends and family from both far and near, which is accented by laughter and quiet music.
As we celebrate this special day, surrounded by those we love, while enjoying both a delicious, garden fresh dinner and a lovely, well-aged French wine (thank you Chris!), I am grateful that we Vive Bene, Spesso L’Amore, Di Risata Molto … live well, laugh often, love much. For me, that is what life is really about.
There were two dishes that really stood out for me, both from the rehearsal dinner, and both simple salads. However, in their simplicity, both are delicious, and so, of course, I had to attempt to duplicate them at home. Buon appetito and Congratulations Jim and Rebecca!
Heirloom Caprese Salad with Manchego Anejo
1 pound heirloom tomatoes, variety of types and colors, sliced into wedges
1 small jar of Castelvetrano olives, rinsed and soaked in water (minimum 1 hour)
10 large basil leaves, torn
2 – 3 ounces Manchego Anejo cheese, sliced thin (I sliced mine on the triangle end – this will make sense when you see the cheese)
Good quality olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper to taste
1. Arrange tomato wedges on a plate with 4 – 5 olives. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with basil. Nestle in 2 slices of cheese and serve.
Summer Farro Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
10 ounces farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 cups water
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
2 large avocados, large dice
1 large English cucumber, large dice
2 large green onions, finely minced
1. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until emulsified. Store in refrigerator, bring to room temperature before use.
1. Place water and farro in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir periodically. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and simmer until the farro is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
2. Once farro is room temperature, add the remaining ingredients as well as 6 tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Serve at room temperature.