My favorite holiday time of year is Thanksgiving. It was Mom’s as well. “It’s all about the food,” Aunt Kathy pointedly told my mom with a grin, as they discussed an upcoming trip and Mom plotted their vacation by the restaurants they would dine in along the way. Lella Mai (mom) certainly enjoyed good food, cooking and loving people with her creations from the kitchen. My cousins loved Aunt Mai’s sweet tea, potato salad, corn bread dressing and chocolate confections. From her “doctored up” Mississippi Mud Cake to her truffles and other deliciousness, desserts were top of mind. Her first love, pound cake, was a constant entertainment as she tried many recipes. I have found the same enjoyment in my own kitchen, especially creating new recipes, or tweaking others’ recipes to make them my own.
Mom was not one of those who kept secrets about her ingredients. She would share recipes readily and was honored when people asked her for one. She definitely had command of the kitchen. Of course, everything else was under her leadership as well, but that’s another story.
The following salad is a recent discovery, and its simplicity makes it an easy addition to any meal. Mom probably would not have liked this one because she never tasted arugula, to my knowledge, and she became fairly picky. I can see her “would be” reaction to it now, a crinkled up nose in disapproval of the strong flavor. It makes me laugh. I do miss her. She could make some awful faces.
This recipe serves 16-20 as an accompaniment and leftovers the next day are delicious. Lemon is the standout and makes for a nice break on the palate between the savory goodness of turkey and dressing and that sweet potato casserole with the brown sugared crunchy topping.
Lemon Arugula Salad
- 3 containers of arugula, organic if you can get it
- 6 ounces thin sliced prosciutto di Parma, torn into small pieces
- ½ cup of large shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano (use a large bit grater)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/3 to ½ cup of good olive oil
Mix the liquids and pour over the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Gathering family, cooking, eating, laughing and of course, expressing thanks, are all on the plan. A nice walk in the woods, breathing in the crisp, cool air and walking off some of that deliciousness will be on the plan as well.
Renee is the executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, a member based organization. In addition to growing private support for the trails and green spaces, she enjoys oil painting, hiking, nature and working in the garden. Renee is married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.
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