Recently I've succumbed to super fast meals eaten at my counter and semi-homemade concoctions eaten on the couch. This happens -- particularly when suddenly it's fall and you're busy and your boyfriend is out of town and you're just feeling lazy. This is not a bad thing, but I do think it is important to balance those meals with ones that you take a little bit more time on, that force you to sit down and enjoy the food that you've slowly and carefully made for yourself. Eating meals without the TV on is an important habit to get in to, I believe, and it tends to keep me sane, even if it only happens once or twice a week. Last night I decided a meal like this was overdue.
I didn't make all that fancy of a meal - just a simple salad and a few slices of the cheese I'd bought at the New Amsterdam Market. But I set out my meal as if I were serving guests, and sat down to enjoy it without the TV. Okay, I was still sitting at my counter, but that is because my apartment isn't big enough for a table. But I was sitting! And it was really nice - so relaxing to enjoy fresh, simple food without feeling like I was in a hurry to get somewhere.
The salad was simple - arugula with walnuts, goat cheese, and chopped dates tossed in a lemony vinaigrette. The secret to turning a salad like this from a good one into a great one is toasting the nuts. As you prepare your other ingredients, put the nuts onto a baking sheet and into the oven at 250 degrees. After about 5-10 minutes, you'll be able to smell them and you can remove them. Toss the warm nuts into the salad last and it will not only add a tremendous amount of flavor, but also start to melt the cheese and warm the salad ever so slightly.