Fall Harvest Salad
The months that follow college graduation can only be described as weird. All of a sudden, there’s no plan. Summer vacation isn’t summer vacation, it’s summer unemployment, and you’re left to while away the hours while LinkedIn serves as a constant reminder of your professional inferiority. No matter what the trajectory of your post-college life is like, friends have corroborated that there’s an overarching feeling of emptiness. We’re left questioning every move, every cover letter, every decision to stop writing cover letters and move to a farm (just me? Oh…). The point is, it’s scary. It’s also completely wonderful – every day feels like a riddle, a puzzle whose pieces are scattered in every which direction and you can’t wait to find them.
The past few months have been a whirlwind. They’ve been wild and lonely, outgoing and shy. I’ve made friends, found happiness, seen parts of the world I could have never imagined. When new faces would ask, “Where do you live?” I’d laugh and say, “I don’t.” This wanderlust was thrilling, but it comes as no surprise that, eventually, we all just want to go home.
In an amazing and strange turn of events, a company I’d been in talks with a while back decided to bring me in for more interviews. And…..I got a job offer! The next week was fraught with phone calls to mentors, a few existential tears, and a lot of soul searching. Should I take this job? Every reason not to seemed more like an excuse than a reality. I’d be heading up the marketing department for a food tech startup whose mission is to create stronger communities with food. Uh, yeah, sounds like a dream job. And,let me tell you, it is a dream job!
I accepted the offer, took a couple weeks to be a fake adult a little longer, and returned to San Francisco ready for what I’m fondly calling ‘real life.’ I’m one week in and have never been so mentally pooped. I’m thrilled to be using my brain to problem solve for a cause I truly believe in, with co-workers who, without trying to sound cheesy, get me.
The routine of real life is challenging but so so comforting after the confusion of post graduation jitters. Staying in one place means learning that place, and with it, all of its intricacies and quirks. It means your friends aren’t just ones you see when you’re in town, they’re your support system, your backbone, and your fellow city-trekkers.
The other day, after that first week of being a real life adult with a real life desk at a real life company, I asked those friends over for a good old-fashioned potluck. We sat around the table, drinking wine and eating dinner. Someone commented that our conversation sounded like a podcast, which is possibly the best compliment a hostess could ever hear.
But even though we’re real life adults now, nothing beats the childlike comfort of being surrounded by the ones you love in the presence of excellent food.
My contribution to the feast was this Fall Harvest Salad. It’s a hearty one, for sure. Gone are the days of light as air butter lettuce and juicy tomatoes. We’re in the thick of fall, and, even though it doesn’t feel like it here in San Francisco, it definitely does taste like it.
This salad is sweet and savory, perfect as a main course but also excellent accompanying roasted chicken or pork loin.
Enjoy it in the company of people who make you smile: with people who challenge you: with people you love.
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 sweet dumpling or delicata squash
½ pound baby arugula
1 avocado (still in season!)
Balsamic vinegar (we used Amphora)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cut the squash open and remove the seeds. Cut into ½ in pieces, leaving the skin on. Coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and arrange on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and then set aside to cool.
Slice the persimmon into small pieces and cube the avocado.
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, and toss to coat. For a less creamy salad, crumble the goat cheese on top, after tossing the salad.