When I was in 4th grade I thought Thomas Jefferson was pretty darn cool. He was an inventor among many things and lived at Monticello, which were reason enough for me. So during our April break that year we ventured south to escape Vermont’s mud season and follow in Jefferson’s footsteps. Monticello was of course gorgeous and my mom was particularly taken with his gardens. Who wouldn’t be coming off of a long Vermont winter? So she bought some lettuce seeds, Tennis Ball Lettuce to be exact, to bring back home. Tennis Ball Lettuce is an heirloom variety that Jefferson grew “himself”. It is tender, delicious and can handle the heat without much effort. So we enjoyed it that summer and have every summer since as my mom lets it go to seed, and collects the seeds to use the following year. I, among many others, have been the lucky recipient of these seeds and let me tell you this lettuce is life changing. It converted Travis from a cover my salad in so much ranch you can no longer see green, salad eater to a lover of homemade dressings on these tender greens. We moved into our house last year with a few things going on so I didn’t have much time for gardening last year. But I sprinkled some seeds into the ground and magically enough with no effort on my end, we enjoyed lettuce for most of last summer. Following my mom’s instructions I let it go to seed, collected the seeds, and saved them for the following year. Thank goodness for lazy gardening because low and behold before I had so much as laid a hand in my garden this year I already had about a dozen heads of lettuce popping up. We enjoyed our first garden salad the last week of May and have been enjoying them ever since. Menu Plan & Grocery List
Monday: Cajun Jambalaya with Green Salad
- I doubled this recipe to have for dinner and bring to a friend who just had a baby. It is very easy to do in bigger batches and freeze and doesn’t really add much prep time.
- I wanted more veggies so I used a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, a whole green bell pepper, 3 stalks of celery and a whole onion.
- I adapted the seasoning recipe to get 2 Tbsp with these quantities: ½ Tbsp paprika, a scant ½ Tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, and a slightly heavy ½ tsp of the black pepper, onion powder, oregano and thyme. Since I didn’t want it too spicy I used ¼ tsp of cayenne, and it was very mild (i.e. perfect).
Tuesday: Falafel Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing and Whole Wheat Pita
- I tried to step out of my comfort zone with this one and try something new. I rarely make falafel and now I remember why…the real stuff is so much better! It’s not to say this wasn’t good, but it wasn’t amazing and I think the tahini dressing and babaganoush (Middle Eastern eggplant dip) I bought were the stars of this dish.
- I also think that falafel can be really dry, so trying to avoid that I added too much liquid and ended up with a falafel scramble. But on the bright side it was so sad looking that I actually remembered to take a picture! You win some, you lose some.
- I used 2, 15oz cans of chickpeas instead of soaking them overnight.
- I stuffed everything, salad, veggies, falafel, and the babaganoush into a pita pocket and it was messy but good.
Wednesday: Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans
- This is one of my favorite super fast meals that I can cook nearly blindfolded. It involves a little chopping but mostly just opening cans. It’s nice to have a few of these in your back pocket for busy weeknights.
- I skip the mozzarella since I find it pretty flavorless and use more parmesan cheese when serving.
Thursday: Lentil Salmon Salad with Greens
- I had red lentils on hand and used those instead of brown, but just for aesthetic purposes I would recommend brown so that it is a slightly less monochromatic meal. And overcooking them is also not recommended. Mushy!
- We served it over a bed of greens and increased the dressing (about double) in the salad to make up for it.
- Good but not great. But super easy, and sometimes that is worth it in and of itself.
Friday: Black Bean, Corn & Barley Salad with Grilled Meat
- Travis had to make something to bring to a work potluck so we made extras and had it for dinner ourselves.
- Like I said, the longer it sits the better so our day old salad was perfect.
- And since we are overflowing with greens I served it with a side salad and grilled meat (of course!).