When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.
Today: A customizable, comforting salad to ground even the busiest of weekday nights -- and a dressing to put on everything.
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8pm. Almost every Wednesday night. Post-gymnastics, almost post-homework, mid-martini. I open the fridge.
So. Bella. Dash. What's for dinner?
My son's hungry little face falls down in his hands. My daughter rolls her eyes, crosses her arms, and sighs.
Mom. Oh my god. Isn't that your job?
In these situations, I do one of two things. I either yell out, breakfast for dinner! The kids jump up and down like they're going to Disneyland. And then we make French toast and bacon and eat too much maple syrup and no one can fall asleep.
Or I yell out (lots of yelling in my kitchen), it's make your own salad night! There is no jumping up and down.
My daughter thinks eggs are disgusting so she takes extra bacon.
My son uses way too much dressing.
My husband throws all of his preferred ingredients into a bowl, cuts them up like a chopped salad, and I give him the stink eye because why would you do that to such a pretty salad.
As I layer my own dinner, nestling the eggs and and stacking the bacon just so, I feel my son watching me.
Dash, drizzle my salad with dressing, will you?
I hold my tongue as he flicks the pesto vinaigrette through the air, messing up my meticulously assembled salad, splashing the table, my hand, my wine glass.
We eat. I wait for the big dessert question. It never comes.
4 tablespoons pesto (any kind) 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons white wine or Champagne vinegar Lemon juice to taste Salt to taste Eight 5-minute eggs, peeled and halved and sprinkled with salt (see recipe page for instructions) 10 slices bacon, cooked to your liking 25 to 30 hearts of romaine leaves (only the crispiest from the interior of the head), stems removed Chopped parsley Crunchy salt, for serving
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.