The apartment is still a mess, albeit now deemed “home.”
All I really see are empty cardboard boxes lying around in a not-so-neat pile off to the corner, unopened garbage bags of who-knows-whose kitchenware, and wrinkled articles of clothing strewn over the vast beige carpet floor. It just wouldn’t be appropriate of me to humiliate myself (or my wonderful roommates) by publicly displaying photos of our self-inflicted, at-home chaos. At least, not yet. I do, however, have photos of my first meal cooked within my new kitchen! Despite the literal, physical clutter and mental, emotional disarray, I felt my first surge of untarnished happiness and elation. With the counter top cleaned and most of my ingredients mise en place, I stationed myself in front of the cutting board, knife in hand, to chop my first onion, making my eyes water. Though I don’t normally find onion-chopping nor tear-jerking moments (of any sort) very pleasurable, I embraced it joyfully. In that moment, being blinded by the streaming tears that stung my eyes was the most comfort I felt in days, weeks even. With all the changes any move brings, this one in particular held so many implications for me: a deepened sense of independence that I hold yet consistently yearn for, a reunion of old friends, new friends, and past roommates, and the often times heart-wrenching process of letting go to move on, to grow.
And to think, all this from one onion, eh?It was a much needed moment to reflect and ground myself once again before diving head first (and presumably disappearing) into an abyss. We all need time to introspect, to breathe, to do what we love. For me, all I needed was to be in my element within a kitchen I could call my own. While cooking, I took several pregnant pauses to sit and stare, awestruck, at what I was making. The squash shavings curved and folded over each other so effortlessly, so beautifully. I couldn’t help myself. Up to that point, my heart had been so heavy and my mind had been so cloudy, I didn’t allow myself any time to stop and meditate, enjoy a moment of silence or two. With this truly refreshing and breathtaking salad, I finally did. Maybe you can too.
Shaved Summer Squash Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2011
3 tablespoons whole almonds
1 pound summer squash (a mix of green and yellow)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 minced garlic cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Some freshly-grated parmesan or pecorino
Roast almonds and coarsely crush. Meanwhile, trim the ends off summer squash. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the squash lengthwise into strips and transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic clove, and kosher salt to taste. Pour dressing over squash. Let stand for a few minutes, then add a few handfuls of baby arugula. Shave a little Parmesan/Pecorino over the squash and toss. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with the crushed almonds.