We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: In dinner -- and in life -- it's the little things that count.
We're always told to appreciate the little things. But when the weekend's zipped by and you find yourself back to the daily routine, what does it matter that a stranger held the door or that your peaches have reached perfect ripeness? It's Monday and sometimes it's hard to think of anything but that.
This menu will force you (gently, of course) to be grateful for the small sparks of happiness that often go overlooked. Because tonight's dinner is all about those little things. Pine nuts, mint, and a savory-sweet balsamic reduction bring plums and mozzarella together in an elegant dish straight out of a trattoria. And with a little help from basil, one of the simplest cocktails is transformed into a refreshing summer drink. Small pleasures, consider us grateful.
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
12 large, fresh basil leaves
1 ounce simple syrup
4 ripe plums
1 large ball buffalo mozzarella
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/4 cup pine nuts
A baguette or other loaf of good, crusty bread
You probably have balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and vodka in your kitchen, but if not, add those to list, too.
1. On the stovetop, simmer 1 1/2 cups of balsamic vinegar for about 15 minutes, until it's reduced nearly 3/4 in volume.
2. It's cocktail time. Add the zest of one lime and the juice of both to a cocktail shaker along with the basil (torn into strips), and the simple syrup. Muddle the basil leaves and let the mixture sit.
3. Quarter the plums, then add them to the vinegar syrup and cook for 4 to 7 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, add 5 ounces vodka to the cocktail shaker, then fill 2/3 of the way with ice. Shake with all your might, then strain into 4 chilled martini glasses. If you're feeling fancy, garnish with a small sprig of basil.
5. Turn off the heat on the plums. As they cool, slice the mozzarella, assemble on a plate, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Top the cheese with plums, any remaining syrup, toasted pine nuts, chopped mint, and a drizzle of olive oil. Tear yourself a generous piece of bread for mopping up any leftover oil and vinegar.