Simple and Delicious

First of all, thank you for all of your encouraging comments on my half marathon training!  You all made me feel really strong and proud!

We don’t do the whole meal planning thing here.  We’ve tried, it just doesn’t work.  There are a lot of reasons. 

Sometimes I underestimate how much a meal is going to make, and we end up having more leftovers than I expect.  When there are leftovers, there isn’t any reason not to eat them, and then some planned meals just end up on the backburner. 

Things come up.  Maybe Solomon works late and grabs something at school.  Sometimes we make last minute plans with friends.  Sometimes there is a family thing (well, not here, but in Boston that happened a lot!).  Sometimes we just don’t want what we planned.  Sometimes we really just want to get out of the house. 

So needless to say, meal planning just doesn’t happen.  We usually loosely plan on 2 or 3 things for the week, and will buy what we can for them.  We also like to keep certain staples in our house-things we can always throw a meal together with.  This includes pasta and a variety of whole grains, frozen veggies, beans, tortillas, nut butters, tofu and cereals.  We really just don’t care if we have to eat cereal for dinner once in awhile.  Worse things have happened. 

Sometimes, just sometimes I find something that I NEED to get and need to plan a meal around.  Like a beautiful beefsteak tomato. 

I’ve never met a tomato, or a tomato dish I didn’t like.  Which is strange because when I was younger I only liked them raw, and would pick the chunks out of sauces.  My, how times have changed.  The chunkier the tomato sauce, the happier I am!

I could have come up with a million creative things to do with my tomatoes, but I had my heart set on one thing, and one thing only. 

Being the geek I am, I googled caprese salad and discovered this from wikipedia:

Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, plum tomatoes and basil. It is seasoned with salt, black pepper, and olive oil.  This dish is also known as a Tricolore salad due to its three colors, which mimic the Italian flag.

Once I had my mind made up, and had Solomon on board, it was salad time!  I started by taking just one of the tomatoes (I had to save the other one.  More inspiration is sure to come).

I cut it into 1/4” slices and put them on a plate.

I also cut up a block of TJ’s buffalo mozzarella into 1/4” slices.

I like the look of them all arranged on the plate in alternating order.  Because order makes me happy.  Because I’m compulsive, and I’m OK with it.

The next step was the basil, which was wicked cheap.

I honestly wish I had smell o vision or something.  I know everyone knows what basil smells like, but seriously, it’s incredible stuff.  I probably looked a little strange sniffing at this little container, but whatever.


I cut the basil using a chiffonade technique, which helps made pretty ribbons of basil.  Solomon was sweet and took some pictures of me cutting, and I was going to explain chiffonade, but that didn’t work out so well.  Seriously though, look how pretty the little ribbons of basil look.  Love it.   

Next comes the dressing, which is super simple.  A little pepper from the pepper mill, some olive oil, a little balsamic (I like it on my caprese, even though it’s not traditional), and a sprinkling of salt.  I decided instead of using regular salt, I would get fancy.  I mean, this was our dinner after all (no joke, it’s all we wanted).  I keep my salt sampler handy, and decided this was a perfect chance for a special salt.

I chose the murray river sea salt because it is recommended for fruits, raw vegetables and salads.  This salt comes from Australia and is naturally produced in the underground brines of the Murray Darling Basin.  The brine is crimson and has materials which give the salt an apricot color, and pyramid shape.
I very seriously considered putting some greens in the middle, to soak up some of the oil and vinegar, and for aesthetic reasons.  Then I realized 2 things.  1, I would have to go to the store to get greens, since all we had on hand was spinach and romaine.  2, who cares about greens when you have cheese and tomatoes?  Not Solomon or I!

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Really, sometimes simple is more than enough for a great dinner.  This took no time, was filling and delicious.  Not the most balanced meal, but hey, can’t win them all, right?

Are you a meal planner?  What are some staples you always have on hand to throw a meal together with?


8 Responses

  1. I have those problems sometimes with meal planning – my hubby eats so much on some days that it is hard to judge. I also have a hard time planning for so many days in advance because some nights I just don’t want what we’ve planned.

    I do tend to plan, but I can understand why some don’t!

  2. Nothing like a good tomato 🙂

  3. there is NOTHING better than caprese salad in the summer time!!

    for me, meal planning happens day by day, so I guesss i never have it planned haha…twice a week I eat dinner at work so I have to pack my dinner in the AM, btu the days I am home maybe I will think in the morning what I will make later, other times I will just make whatever looks good!

  4. i tried meal planning on three different occassion. i FAILED meal planning on ALL three occassions. im type-A but my boys are fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of people and so if i plan soemthing they will want something else rather than what i have planned, so I just gave up.

    im sure that basil was AMAZING! i froze some over the winter and used it in a dish the other week and the smell when it hit the pan was glorious.

  5. I am really not the best at meal planning, for several of the reasons you listed. Things always come up during the week and I feel like I waste a lot of food. I can plan two meals a week usually, and then I run to the store other days if need be.

  6. I usually plan a meal or two before I go grocery shopping, but not for a specific day. I like knowing I have a couple of “solid” meals ready to go!

  7. Looks really good… $1 for basil? what a great deal. I plan our meals for the week and use that to grocery shop.

    here is a post I did on meal planning and grocery shopping

  8. i meal plan. and i even plan the leftovers (monday’s dinner will make josh’s lunch for tuesday and wednesay… dinners on tuesday and friday have rice, so on tuesday i make an extra big pot of it and put half in the fridge)
    i’ll switch around days sometimes-especaiilly since my work is unpredictable, and some days, i end up not having time to make what was planned-i put in at least a day or two where it’s an easy meal that i know i can trade for another day

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