Our daughter Ally’s boyfriend Jackson spent quite a bit of time with us this summer. He and Ally were here at our house for a few days before we all headed up to Sonoma for our son Kyle’s wedding, where he stayed with us for a week. He’s a really wonderful guy and we like him a lot. And I give him all the props in the world for his “trial by fire” in meeting the whole extended mishpacha. All at once. And he did great – every single one of them had such nice things to say about him.
Ally and Jackson met in New Orleans (where they are both living) and he is from North Carolina, so we haven’t met his family (Ally has – she spent Christmas with them last year). But a couple weeks after the wedding, I received the most lovely email from Jackson’s mom, Chrys. She complimented me on the blog. She said she has made a couple recipes and really enjoys finding out about our family through reading it. (Awwww!) She thanked us for hosting Jackson at our home and said that she wanted to send us some Cleveland County peaches. She asked if I knew if it was possible to send fresh fruit. I told her that it’s possible, but that I had learned from personal experience (via a “fruit of the month club” gift) that California’s department of agriculture won’t allow certain fruit into California (don’t even get me started on that! Let’s just say that the “fruit of the month” usually ends up being apples!) She said she’d look into it. I didn’t hear anything back and quite frankly, had forgotten all about it.
Then a few weeks ago I received a package in the mail, from Chrys. It was a cookbook called A River’s Course – a Gourmet Collection from the Junior Charity League of Shelby, North Carolina. It has the most beautiful cover that looks like an oil painting of a river. She wrote the sweetest note, too, telling me that, indeed the CA Dept of Food & Agriculture told her NC peaches couldn’t come to CA for fear of fruit flies. She said “Come to NC and we’ll take you to the spots pictured (& eat peaches!”). She also took the time to list some of their favorite recipes from the book, as well as the pages they’re found on!!! What a nice, generous and thoughtful person!
Well, it just so happens that the day the book arrived was one of those days that I’m driving home from work thinking, “ugh, what are we going to have for dinner? I don’t feel like going to the store.” So I couldn’t have been more excited to receive a brand new cookbook!! I started thumbing through the book, hoping to find inspiration.
I turned to the “Salads” section and saw a lot of delicious looking recipes that I earmarked for later, and then came to BLT Salad. Yum. Scanned the ingredients…lo and behold, I had everything! It’s kind of a cross between a BLT sandwich and a Panzanella Salad. Really yummy. I added avocado and tossed in some leftover cooked chicken. It was a delicious, really easy, light weeknight dinner. Will definitely be making this one again. Often.
Thank you so much Chrys (and Greg, Jackson, Emma and Katy)! I do hope to get to Shelby someday to see all of those beautiful places…and eat peaches!
Serves 2 as a main course
6 slices bacon
1/4 loaf Italian or sourdough bread
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon water
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 head Boston lettuce (I actually used romaine, because that’s what I had), torn into bite-sized pieces
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
In a skillet, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet, drain bacon on paper towels and crumble.
Cut bread into 3/4-inch cubes to measure 1 cup. Heat bacon drippings over moderately high heat but not smoking and sauté bread crumbs with salt to taste, until golden brown. Transfer croutons to paper towels to drain and cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, mayonnaise, water, salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, tomatoes, onion, bacon, croutons, avocado (if using) and chicken (if using), salt and pepper to taste and enough dressing to coat.