Tomato Basil Lunchtime Salad

Tomato Basil Lunchtime Salad 

Lonely, Table for 1. 

I’m not sure about the rest of the country, but here in North Texas it is back to school week. The time of year that strikes fear into the hearts of children and joy into the hearts of their weary parents. Where we put aside the sunscreen, flip flops and bathing suits and dust off our backpacks, lunchboxes and quite frankly, our brains. I love this time of year. Like most people look forward to the dawn of a new calendar year, I push forward to September and the promise it brings. And probably not for the reasons you are thinking.

To me, this time of year is one of renewal. Of rebirth. Each new school year is an opportunity.  It is a chance to reinvent yourself. It’s the ultimate mulligan. Each year you can build upon the successes of previous years and iron out the kinks in the failures.  You have a built-in place to start again–fresh.

I don’t think most kids get this. I know I didn’t. I started out each school year rather haphazardly. I would worry about who was in my class and whether or not the teacher was nice, but I didn’t ever worry about what I was bringing to the table or how I could approach the school year differently. I was so confident that I would bust into that year and just simply KILL It that I didn’t think twice. Mostly this is a good thing, and I was pretty accurate with the exception of a few misplaced choices in a few misplaced years. (I’m looking squarely at you eighth grade and your bangs and terrible boyfriend).

This year, my kids weren’t much different than I was. They waltzed into the 2017 school year like they owned it, without giving much thought to the gift of this fresh start. They unpacked their school supplies on Meet the Teacher night and approached Day 1 like the bosses that they really are.

If only we all could be that confident.

Now I’ve been through enough life to know that the older you get, the harder it is to reinvent yourself. You have more to lose, and you don’t have yearly built-in refresh options like the first day of school. Change of this magnitude as an adult is typically a gift cloaked in upheaval and distress.  Sometimes it’s hard to unwrap that gift with all of the mess it comes packaged with. But if you look hard, and let God do his work, change is what leads you to the plan you were meant to follow all along. But only if you let it.

And that’s where I am today. I was given a re-fresh option this year. It didn’t come about quite as well-packaged as a new school year, and it definitely wasn’t without its fair share of heartbreak. But it happened nonetheless, and it feels and awful lot like that refresh I needed in 8th grade when I made some questionable teenage decisions. Only hopefully with less acne and angst.

This the first first week of school where I am not working full-time in corporate America. It’s the first first week of school that I didn’t dry my eyes, buckle my seat belt and rush into life unaffected by the morning drop off. Too distracted to feel the new of the school year. It’s weird. It’s quiet. I am so far in love-hate with it. (Yes. That’s a thing, people). But I’m also well aware that I was given a blessing with this restart. I get to re-invent my wheel. I get to follow a passion. I get to rebuild and recapture relationships that I let fall into disrepair and neglect due to my need for success. I get to spend time each day learning more about myself through the eyes of the Lord and deepening my relationship with Him. And I know this is a blessing and I am not taking it for granted.

But it’s a little lonely. Today, I’m feeling it.  But I choose to reinvent how I do lonely. I won’t  get sad. I won’t wallow. I’m gonna throw on my big girl pants and cook. I’m gonna put on some music, get out my knives and create. And I am going to fuel myself with good food and let the lonely slip away with each bite.

Tomato Basil Orzo Salad

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Tomato Basil Orzo Salad

Servings 1 very lonely mom (or 2 normal people)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Orzo
  • 1/4 cup Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed slivered basil (make your life easier, get some kitchen shears, pile that basil up, and cut away)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium pot of salted water on high to boil. Cook Orzo to package instructions

  2. While Orzo is cooking, add Parmesan to the bottom of your serving bowl.

  3. Cut tomatoes and sliver the basil.

  4. Drain pasta and immediately add to the serving bowl. DO NOT RINSE BEFORE ADDING. You want the cheese to melt into the pasta. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and stir to combine. 

  5. Stir in the tomatoes, working to soften them just a bit with the heat of the pasta.

  6. Top with basil, more parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. 

 

 

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