Attention all: this is your courtesy reminder that Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday! This is not a drill! Go get your mom a card, a bunch of roses, and make a reservation at that overcrowded brunch restaurant that you will still probably have wait an hour to be seated at. Wait, scratch that, let’s avoid those brunch lines and hoards of hangry families and make our own meal instead.
On Mother’s Day last year my mom came down to spend the weekend with my family. We had dinner plans for Mother’s Day evening, but I thought it would be nice to plan just a few hours where my mom and I could spend some quality time together, just the two of us. So, I prepared some of her favorite things, created a sneaky cocktail, and threw them in a cooler to take to the park for a picnic. Here is what I included:
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette
Prepare 1 package of mediterranean seasoned quinoa to package directions and cool in the fridge until it is at least room temperature. You can also prepare it the night before and let it cool overnight.
Rinse your cherry tomatoes and cut each in half and add into your quinoa. Finely chop your arugula and mint and stir in.
A mediterranean salad is not complete without some good feta. Now, you can use any feta that you can get at your local supermarket but I feel like Mother’s Day deserves something special: Bulgarian feta. This is holy grail of feta- you can find it in specialty stores, but it is not always displayed with the other cheeses because it is stored in liquid. Don’t be afraid to ask the worker at the cheese counter about it; they usually have it stored behind the counter or in the store room.
The block, as I mentioned, is stored in liquid. The liquid is actually gorgeously rich in flavor and can be used in recipes (I promise to post one in the near future). So, save the liquid if you can!
Remove the block from the liquid, cut into 4 pieces and crumble straight into your salad.
The dressing is super easy and super delicious: In a food processor or blender squeeze in about 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons). Add 2 tsp garlic paste, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, and 1/3 cup good olive oil.
Remove both mint leaves and lemon thyme leaves from their respective stems and chop. Add about 1 tbsp of each to your processor.
Finish by adding 3/4 tsp white sugar and 1 tsp truffle salt, which you can find in specialty stores, or regular salt if you don’t have any. Blitz everything together in your food processor.
The dressing should be creamy and well combined. Pour over your quinoa and toss to combine. What is great about this salad is that it tastes better the longer it sits because the flavors have time to absorb together and mingle. So, feel free to make this salad well ahead of time.
Cheese Board with Prosciutto Wrapped Watermelon
I am a cheese board fanatic. Cheese, bread and crackers, almonds, olives: heaven.
I think a cheese board always needs at least three cheeses: one sharp, one soft, and one sweet. I chose my cheeses with my mom’s taste in mind: an aged 10 years white cheddar (sharp), danish Harvarti (soft), and a swiss Jarslberg (sweet).
Danish Harvarti is my mom’s favorite cheese. She served is to us all of the time when she was growing up. Her mom is Danish and it was something she ate growing up as well. My grandmother always bought sliced Harvarti because the blocks are too soft to slice with normal kitchen knives.
Cut each of your Harvarti slices in half and roll them up, using a toothpick to hold the rolls together. Place on your serving plate.
Cut your cheddar into small blocks. Now, I decided to go with a very old cheese because I love the flavor, but it is very difficult to cut cleanly. I’m going to go ahead and say that it is more important that the cheese tastes good, anyways. Slices your Jarlsberg with a cheese knife and, that’s it, you’re done with the cheeses!
Now, for something special: prosciutto wrapped watermelon. You can almost taste the salty, sweet goodness just from reading that sentence.
Start by cutting your watermelon into bite size pieces. Fold each piece of prosciutto in half and wrap a piece of watermelon into each one. Use a toothpick to hold the little packages of goodness together. Place your finished wrapped watermelon pieces into tupperware and pop into the fridge until you are ready to go.
We have great food, great people, and a great picnic spot. Time for a great drink. Drinking in public is, well, generally frowned upon so I wanted to create a light drink that can be incognito when we are out at the park.
Spirited Sparkling Sauvignon Spritzer
This drink couldn’t be more simple: all you need is a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a couple of lemon Perrier in individual-sized bottles. You don’t have to go overboard with the bottle of wine: any middle of the shelf bottle will do. I chose to use Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc because it is cheap, tart, and tasty.
Pour half of each of your bottles of Perrier into a glass for you to enjoy now. Then fill each of them back up with the wine. That’s it. You’re done! Let me tell you: this drink is so crisp and delicious. It is honestly the most refreshing drink for a warm day.
This is the view that we get to enjoy with our perfect little picnic. Newport Beach really is a stunning place to live.
Lay your cheeses out with a selection of crackers, pieces of fresh bread, and nuts such as my favorite: Marcona almonds. Bring some small plates for your salad and cheeses and serve it up!
I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day that is surrounded by your loved ones. I know that is how I plan to spend mine! Happy Mother’s Day!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette
- 1 package Mediterranean seasoned quinoa, prepared and cooled
- 1 packed cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups finely chopped arugula
- 1/4 lb block Bulgarian feta, crumbled
- 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 1/3 cup good olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 3/4 tsp white sugar
- 1 tsp truffle salt, or regular salt
- pepper to taste
Combine quinoa, tomatoes, arugula, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Add salad dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend until creamy. Toss salad with dress and keep chilled until ready to serve.
Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
- 1 1/2 lb watermelon
- 1/4 lb good quality prosciutto
Cut watermelon into bite size cubes. Fold each piece of prosciutto in half and wrap around each piece of watermelon. Use a toothpick to hold the package together. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.