Don’t miss this summer recipe for an updated take on the traditional caprese salad with ripe avocado, shallots, and a hint of lemon to play nicely with the fresh basil, summer tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.
I am in need of a reset button. A small black button, no cautionary signs or flashing lights warning you of the consequences should you press it. Rather, a button that invites you to push it down, the perfect amount of resistance followed by a satisfying, rewarding click. And then it’s all white.
A clean slate on which to start anew.
After a hard-hitting month of July, we immediately turned around and started August by packing hiking boots and swim suits and plenty of sweatshirts onto a roof rack fashioned out of plywood by my husband, colored by one can’s worth of black spray paint, and held in place by neon orange tie-down straps to the roof of our 15-year-old SUV. The one with the after-market third row seat that Ole installed himself. We are nothing if not resourceful.
Then we drove north into the forest.
(Decidedly not our vehicle, just the one we followed up the Gunflint Trail.)
The distractions of neighbors, friends, cell phones, work, and life were left behind in town. I mean, except for when I hit up the coffee shop at the bottom of the trail and sat there using their internet for hours to work while my family hiked a river. Or the time I begged the Wi-Fi password off a lodge owner, Eric, only to be given the key to connectivity which contained a gentle reminder of why I was there in the phrasing. (Hint: It was not to use the Wi-Fi.)
We played beneath the canopy of trees, fished in crystal clear lakes, hiked up rocky cliffs and waterfalls, and jumped into freezing water. We ate lunches of smoked fish and blueberries on rock faces jutting out of the coastline and hanging into the lake.
We found ourselves looking forward to the morning light, the way it cascaded over the palisade, breaking through the trees, and casting color on the lake. I reveled again in the quiet, listening for my children to stir as I made my morning coffee. We overturned rocks, watched friendly squirrels and chipmunks skulk closer and closer, photographed small voles along the trail, skipped rocks into pristine water.
All too soon it was time to turn around and come home, to our imperfect house with life pressing in on all sides. But as we pulled up and unloaded our bags from the roof of the vehicle, I saw that my gardens were weeded, that my tomatoes were producing, and that my floors had remained clean in our absence (and patted myself on the back for insisting we wash sheets and scrub floors on our way out the door). With no food in the house other than what we carried home from our trip and what was flourishing in our garden, I called our friends who were responsible for my weeded and well-watered garden, and asked if they had an avocado.
We sat around our dinner table for the first time in August, a glass of wine shared between the parents, the remains of smoked fish and crackers across the table, and a fresh summer salad served in the middle of it. Reset.
Avocado Caprese Salad
- 2 cups fresh tomatoes, sliced or halved
- 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Layer the tomatoes, avocado, sliced shallot, mozzarella, and basil leaves in a shallow bowl or on a plate.
- Drizzle the lemon juice over the top, followed by the extra virgin olive oil. Liberally sprinkle sea salt and cracked black pepper over the top. Serve.
I don’t know that August is any less hard-hitting, but so far there have been no emergency runs to the hospital, no one has hit my husband on his motorcycle on his way to work (which would be rather impressive considering it’s sitting at the Triumph dealer and Ole isn’t riding it to work), and the humidity has given way to a bit of rain. My life may still feel in need of a reset button, but my soul seems to have taken up residence in the north woods.