Can I tell you something that I’m really bad at? And by bad I mean that I don’t do it “right”.
It seems a bit ironic, considering how much time I spend in the kitchen. One would think I would be very organized. But the truth is, I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to grocery shopping.
In fact, I tend to frequently commit several of the “deadly sins” of grocery shopping. [Dun dun duuunnn!] There, I said it. My name is Amanda and I stink at grocery shopping.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The good intentions are there. I start with a list, the first rule of smart grocery shopping. Nevermind the fact that I am usually scrawling my list down on a scrap of paper at my desk at work before leaving for the day. With little memory of what might already be lurking within my fridge and cupboards. “I think there’s sour cream somewhere in there…oh, whatever, I’ll grab some just in case.” (Which ultimately leads to the discovery of three containers of moldy sour cream taking up precious real estate in my fridge a month later). And nevermind that fact that I rarely have an actual meal plan at this point, other than the meal ideas floating around in my head. But I have a list.
Unfortunately, it all goes a bit downhill from there. First of all, I rarely go grocery shopping when I’m not hungry. In fact, I’m typically starving as I stalk the aisles for satisfying solutions. (This mad hunger typically results in me tearing open a box of cereal in the car and shoving handfuls of it in my mouth as I make the 5-minute drive home). But hungry grocery shopping can be so fun! The sense of adventure! The magnified desire to try
totally unnecessary, typically expensive new things!
Secondly, coupons? What now? I know that I could supposedly cut my grocery bill in half by poring over the flyers that show up on my doorstep each week. But honestly, I don’t have the patience for it. Those flyers go straight from my mailbox into the recycle bin. I show them no mercy.
Thirdly, I spend way too much time in there. I saunter through the aisles, checking things out, and give myself way too much time to find completely unnecessary things. Completely. Unnecessary. Me and impulse buys are likethis. Which leads me to commit yet another sin: not sticking to my list.
Did I mention that sometimes I look up recipes while I’m strolling the aisles? Damn you iPhone, why do you make it so easy?!
Clearly, I’m far from perfect. But I totally pulled my act together last week when I came across this salad recipe in a cookbook lent to me by a coworker called Whitewater Cooks at Home. I am a big lover of goat cheese, so the thought of creamy goat cheese coated in bread crumbs and then fried until golden brown caught my attention, and everything else was just gravy. So I made myself a list, I went to the grocery store, and I came out only with what I needed. Success!
And then I went home and I made this salad. I ate nearly the entire thing because while I had planned well for the salad, I had not made any plans for what would accompany it. Small steps, right? Dinner was followed by watching Harry Potter and eating these cookies. Does that sound like a perfect evening or what?
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette (adapted from Whitewater Cooks at Home)
This salad does not have quite enough heft to be eaten as a meal, but makes for a wonderful side dish or starter salad. Or feel free to give it some oomph by adding a grilled chicken breast or another form of protein.
For the salad:
8 cups of mixed greens
2/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 egg mixed with 1 TBSP. water
6 oz. soft goat cheese
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
For the dressing:
2 TBSP. olive oil
1/2 cup sweet white onion, diced finely
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 TBSP. maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
Mix together the breadcrumbs, dried basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Put the egg mixture into another small bowl. Roll the goat cheese into small balls (about 1 TBSP. each), for a total of 12 balls of cheese. Dip the cheese balls into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the breadcrumbs into the cheese to coat it. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour (longer if possible).
Prepare the dressing by heating the 2 TBSP. of olive oil and sautéing the onion until softened and golden brown. Add in the white wine vinegar and maple syrup and reduce for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 1/3 cup olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. It’s important to get the oil hot here, so that you can quickly brown each cheese ball on all sides without melting the cheese! Go for it – you can do it! When done frying, place the balls on a plate lined with a paper towel while you assemble the rest of the salad.
To assemble the salad, toss the greens with the dressing (you may not need all of the dressing) and divide the greens between 4 plates. Place 3 balls of cheese on each plate and sprinkle with the dried cherries and pine nuts. Serve immediately.
PS. It is totally important to eat salads the week before you run a half marathon. At least, I’m pretty sure it is. I’m off to the mountains on Saturday to run mine (eek!) so I’ll let you know the final verdict next week! xoxo
PPS. Are you a “good” grocery shopper? Tell me your secrets!