When I first moved to Philadelphia almost four years ago (4 years-that fact still blows my mind) one of my very first goals was to find a church to call home. After a few months of making the Sunday circuit, I stumbled upon my current church and knew my search was over. Never have I ever been part of such a welcoming, caring, and committed group. I could go on and on about the things I’ve learned and the ways I’ve grown since becoming a member, but that would take all night. Instead I’ll just tell you about one of my favorite mission which is embodied wholeheartedly in this church. It’s the idea of blessing one another–using God’s gifts in our own lives to love others well. We are encouraged to bless one another, but also to take our gifts into the world to bless our communities, our friends, our places of employment, the list goes on.
After teaching the children’s worship class for the past few Sundays I’ve witnessed this concept first hand. I volunteer a couple hours of my week, but always leave feeling so incredibly blessed by that spunky group of 4 and 5 year olds. They never cease to amaze me with their abundant joyfulness and endless energy, but also with their silly remarks, intelligent questions, and heartfelt thoughts. Seeing their sweet little heads bowed in prayer softens my heart in a way that few things in this world do.
All-in-all I feel so amazingly blessed by my church family every day, that when the opportunity arose to bring dinner to my friend Rachel and her husband after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Claudette, I jumped at the chance. Rachel attends the same Wednesday night community group as I do, and the first day I met her I knew I would like her. She is smart, quick witted, and not afraid to speak her mind or ask the difficult questions. I often times wish that I was more willing to open up honestly about my feelings, so I admire that in her, and hope that her lovely little girl embraces those qualities as well. It was wonderful to take a few moments out of my hectic week to spend with mom and baby. Both are doing well and I can’t wait to see them at church in the coming weeks.
I brought along a pan of veggie lasagna as well as a batch of Summer Love Salad. Why Summer Love? Because this salad is everything I love about summertime eats. It is packed with the fresh flavors of the season and barely needs any dressing. I just opt for a sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzle of balsamic reduction (recipe here–or be lazy like me and buy your balsamic pre-reduced at Trader Joe’s). I usually serve this salad as a side, but top with some grilled shrimp or chicken, and you’ve got yourself a meal!
- 2 cups butter lettuce (or another crunchy lettuce like romaine or ice berg)
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I got lucky and found baby heirlooms)
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into bite sized pieces (don’t use the shredded here)
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 1 Tbs basil leaves, torn into small pieces
**Ingredients are for a single serving. Multiply as you see fit.
Ok, I know we’re all smart people here and don’t need instructions on how to make a salad, so just a few pointers. I suggest using a crunchy lettuce to balance out the texture of all of the soft toppings. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, diced ones will work just fine. For the mozzarella cheese, I used marinated mozzarella balls, but cubing up a block of cheese will work as well. Cut your avocado right before serving to keep it from getting brown. Finally, I wasn’t kidding when I said this salad doesn’t need much dressing. I think a balsamic reduction is the perfect touch, but a light Italian would work great as well.
How to make salad:
- Lay a bed of lettuce.
- Top lettuce with assorted veggies and cheese.
- Drizzle with dressing of your choice.
My friend Kate brought this salad to dinner at my house one night, and I couldn’t get enough!