Matthew and I went on a little date to see one of his friends perform in a stage production of Cinderella. Along the way, Matthew started telling me all about his “girlfriend” at school – a little girl named Lillian. I took it all in stride until Matthew started telling me how he wanted to marry Lillian. I started to get a little perturbed because Matthew always said that he was going to marry me when he grew up and suddenly a precocious five-year-old has displaced me!
When we arrived at the show, who should happen to be sitting in the row directly across from us but the lovely Lillian herself. She was attending the play along with her grandparents. She asked them if she could sit with Matthew and they gave their okay and just like that I found myself sitting directly behind Matthew and Lillian as they watched the play together. They shared the snacks Matthew had brought with him and laughed and clapped and had a jolly good time. My mother-son date had turned into me chaperoning Matthew on his first actual date. I am happy to report that they left plenty of room for the holy spirit. I only had to lay down the law on a few occasions when Lillian insisted on playing with her seat but other than that they were very well behaved. Lillian kept telling me “Matthew wants to marry me!”and I, not really knowing how to respond, just told her that she didn’t want me for a mother-in-law. She thought that was so funny she almost choked on her M&Ms. That girl is quite the catch. Matthew should never let her go.
In honor of Matthew and his first love, young though it may be, I am sharing this beautiful Amore Salad. Why is this salad called Amore? Because it is full of all the wonderful goodies that I love to eat! Arugula, farro, cranberries, roasted almonds, and a sweet white balsamic vinaigrette – it’s a great salad for fall. To be honest, it’s probably my new favorite salad.
Amore Salad loosely adapted from a recipe seen in Wegmans Menu Magazine
For the White Balsamic Vinagrette: 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Salad: 8 ounces baby arugula 2 cups roasted butternut squash 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1 pound chicken breasts, brined (1/4 cup salt + 2 tablespoons sugar + 4 cups water) for at least 4 hours 1 1/4 cups farro 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup honey
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients until emulsified. Set aside.
To make the farro, combine the farro, salt, honey, and 2 1/4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat to low, and cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes to allow the remaining water to absorb. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside while the chicken cooks.
For the chicken, remove from the brine and pat dry. Heat a little bit of oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook on both sides until a thermometer in the center register 165 degrees. Set aside, tenting with foil to keep warm.
Slice the chicken thinly and combine with arugula, squash, almonds, cranberries, and the farro. Drizzle with the vinaigrette – you won’t use it all! – and toss to combine. Serve!