One of my favorite things about living in Australia is knowing that as Thanksgiving and the holidays roll around, so will summer. Though I miss autumn in New England for a million reasons – apple picking, foliage, carving pumpkins, Indian summer – I live for summertime, for beach weather, open windows, tops down, healthy glows, al frescoes, dragging dusks and night swimming.
During my 18 years in New England and 3 in Quebec, I always wished to move someplace warm. And look what happened! Be careful what you wish for, am I right? No, I jest. Despite its lack of many modern amenities (CVS, Netflix, canned pumpkin), Sydney’s weather is awesome. And no, I don’t think that’s too strong a word. It’s awesome because 90 percent of the time it’s breezy, warm and sunny.
Kind of like this:
The other ten percent feels as though all hell has broken loose and the Apocalypse is near. Case in point:
Awesome really is the only way to describe it. Awesome and decidedly warm.
Not once this winter did I pull out my jacket. I never had to wear boots (though for fashion-related reasons I occasionally did) or mittens or a hat or either of these monstrosities:
Yes, that is a hood-to-toes down-filled coat and yes, that is a fleece onesie. Just be glad I didn’t include a picture with the footies.
Anyways, if you know me at all you know I love winter fare. But, though I’d eat stews, pot pies, braised meats, hearty ragù, and bread pudding all year round (weather permitting), I’ve learned that summertime eating can be just as satisfying.
Perhaps the real problem with Sydney’s awesome weather is that it literally pulls you outside. The last thing you want to do when it’s gorgeous outside is stand over a stove or stay inside for hours while something braises or turn the oven on at all.
Warm weather begs for salads that can sit in the fridge for hours (days even!) and slowly keep you going when it’s too hot to work up an appetite for anything more than ice cream and Lambrusco.
Salads that can stand on their own, serve as a side dish, or be paired with a can of tuna, some shredded cooked chicken breast or a big hunk of bread with olive oil.
Shamefully, and I blame geography, my salad repertoire is pretty limited. I’ve picked up some tricks in Italy – oooh that came out wrong, didn’t it? – including the by now ubiquitous panzanella and caprese. But here’s a tried and true American favorite that is perfect for summer for so many reasons. First of all, it takes no time to prepare, requires no oven or stove, no measuring, and relies heavily on what you already have in the pantry. It lasts for up to a week in the fridge and can be eaten alone, as a side, or mixed with tuna and eaten on green salad (as we did last night) for a perfect warm weather dinner.
To all you Northerners getting ready to buckle down for the winter, I make no apologies. I’ve had my fair share of frostbitten suffering. Just look at that floor-to-ceiling down coat and you’ll understand.
3 cans of beans (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, etc.; mix it up for color and flavor)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted (optional)
1 cucumber (optional)
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
lime or lemon juice (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
Drain and rinse the beans. Mix the beans, pepper, tomatoes, scallions and cucumber and corn if using. Mix in half the parsley.
In a small bowl, mix about 1/3 cup olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the beans and stir to coat. Taste some beans and add more dressing if needed. Garnish with remaining parsley.
Store in the fridge up to a week. Serve as a side, or mix with tuna or feta for a light meal.