This salad was inspired by the summer vegetables that are so colorfully on display at farmer’s markets right now, and my disdain for lettuce at this point in the year (enough salads already!). I chopped them up into bite size pieces and combined them with a simple honey lime vinaigrette shaken together in a miniature glass jar.
I had a moment while mixing up the vinaigrette, though. I had just read Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect. She describes how a mentor used a vinaigrette as a metaphor for prayer. Similar to how the oil and vinegar separates in the bottle, you first pour all the acid out to God in prayer: your worries, your troubles, your fears, your disappointments. Then you’re able to get to the thick, luxurious oil of God’s promises and goodness, resting in the richness of who he is and his grace for you.
For some, it is only after you pour out the acid that you’re able to access the oil. It was a sweet reminder that we don’t have to put on a happy face when we pray, but instead pour out our hearts to the one who created us.
So when I made the vinaigrette, this was weighing heavily on my mind. I poured in the olive oil, then the honey, then the dijon and lime juice, and watched as they settled into their respectives places in the jar. The honey and dijon quickly sunk to the bottom. The olive oil rose to the top. That left the lime juice sandwiched between the two. And it left me pondering another analogy for life.
It’s in our nature to want to stay on the top part—the olive oil—gliding through the velvety smoothness of life. We place a high value there. We place our hopes and dreams there. And we find comfort there in the smoothness, taking solace in our career advancement, or our relationships, or moving toward the next big life stage of marriage or children or retirement.
Every once in awhile, life takes us for a dip in the lime juice—the acid of brokenness. Maybe it’s the loss of our health, or the loss of a loved one. Maybe we’re passed over for a promotion, or the job is taken from us. Maybe a dream is put on hold, or it’s crushed altogether. The acid has us grasping for the smoothness of the oil, wishing we could float toward better times.
But I’d argue that it’s underneath that acid, the groans and aches of life, that we find sweetness. We are raw and reeling, but we slowly start to appreciate what we had taken for granted.
We are more attuned to our thoughts and words and actions. We may discover a new depth to relationships. We may begin a new path, paving the way for a much greater calling than we could have imagined for ourselves. The acid wakes us up and invites us to plunge into the fullness of life, a fullness that gives a greater meaning and satisfaction to why we are here.
This humble vinaigrette is now suddenly much more than a dressing for fresh vegetables. It’s a reminder of how the seasons and stages of life are unique. But they’re also intertwined. The vinaigrette gets shaken up, and the sweetness of the honey mingles with the acid of the lime juice and velvety oil. Similarly, we can experience both sorrow and joy together, in good times and in bad. These feelings can co-exist despite their differences, combining to make a life with great fullness and meaning. I’m ok with not floating at the top amid the olive oil—I’ll take a deep dive through the acid and into the sweetness of the honey that a well-rounded life will bring.
I paired this Summer Chopped Salad with these Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Soy Glaze.
Summer Chopped Salad
Yield 2 servings
This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. If you make it as shown for two people, slice the other half of the cucumber and drop it in a pitcher full of water for a refreshing infused water.
For the salad:
- ¼ lb fresh green beans
- 1 ear of corn, husked
- ½ seedless cucumber
- 1 tomato on the vine
- For garnish: fresh basil
For the vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Slice the ends of the green beans off and cut the green beans in 1-inch pieces. Place the green beans into the boiling water for 1 minute. While the beans are cooking, prepare a medium sized bowl full of ice and cold water. Drain the beans and place into the ice water. Let cool for several minutes while you chop the remaining ingredients.
- Stand the corn cob on one of its ends in a medium sized bowl. Use a knife to slice the kernels off the cob. Cut the cucumber into ½ inch pieces. Using a serrated knife, cut the tomato into ½ inch pieces. If using, roll the basil leaves into a cigar shape and slice very thinly into a chiffonade. Drain the green beans. Add the cucumber, tomato, green beans, and basil to the bowl with the corn.
- In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the olive oil, lime juice, honey, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Screw the lid on and shake well.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss gently to combine.