Above all these generous actions, Kate fed me and that is something that I view as one of the ultimate acts of love. To feed another person, even if that person is a stranger, is an act of love because you want them to feel good eating your food. The food I had that first night in Florence has stayed with me. The first course was a salad of arugula, carrots, avocado, pine nuts and feta. It awakened my senses and made me realize that I have been phoning in my salads recently. Served with just balsamic vinegar and olive oil, it sang in the mouth, and I wanted to lick the bowl. This was followed by zuppa di zucca (pumpkin soup) with white beans. It tasted earthy and sweet with a smooth texture. The beans were filling. It felt healthy in the way you wish to feel after traveling long distances but so often don't. That meal was so memorable that three weeks later when I returned to the States, I made both the salad and the soup within 48 hours of being home.
The salad looks fancy while being incredibly simple to prepare. It would be equally welcome at a holiday meal as it would be at a weeknight dinner.
7-8 ounces of arugula, washed and dried
2 medium sized carrots, washed, ends trimmed, outer layer peeled
1 avocado, pitted and diced
4 ounces feta, diced or crumbled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Divide evenly the arugula among four salad bowls. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots onto a cutting board or plate into long, beautiful strips. Divide the carrots evenly among the bowls of arugula. Divide the avocado evenly among the bowls of arugula and carrots. Sprinkle 1/4 of the feta into each bowl of salad. Lastly, top each salad with 1 tablespoon of pine nuts (4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup). Serve with Brian's Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Nutritional awesomeness: Arugula is an excellent source of Vitamin K, a fat-soluble compound essential for blood clotting. It has many other great properties, including augmenting bone health. Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, which promotes vision health, bone growth, and immunity. Avocados provide over 20 vitamins and minerals and contain monounsaturated fat which can help lower bad cholesterol (LDLs).