A colleague of mine brought a huge grocery bag full of persimmons and oranges to the office the other day. He and his wife had an abundance of fruit from their trees this year and didn’t want it to go to waste. I grabbed a couple of each fruit from the bag and went back to my desk. At the end of the day there were still quite a few left so I grabbed a couple more. I hate seeing fresh produce go to waste.
About nine years ago I went through some challenging times; I left a marriage that was toxic. Divorce alone can be a huge financial burden. Getting divorced when already strapped for cash can nearly put a person under. My monthly budget was planned down to the penny and with just $63 per month for my groceries, I cried any time I went over that budget. I am thankful that I worked in an office that often had lunch brought in at no expense to the employees. Still, breakfast and dinner were up to me. Did you do the math? That’s right, I had approximately $2.25 per day to cover those meals. I was determined to still eat a relatively balanced diet off of that budget and there were times when I got creative (this doesn’t necessarily mean creative in a delicious way). I ate a lot of eggs and a lot of pasta during this phase of my life. I also learned how to really scour the grocery ads for what was on sale. In terms of produce, I chose sale items rather than what I might have actually been craving. I didn’t eat fresh fruit and vegetables everyday but I did manage to get some on my plate each week. It probably would have been cheaper to buy boxed/processed foods but the reality was that I needed to take good care of myself. There is no question, I would have needed financial help if I had gotten really sick or injured. The best way to stay healthy was to eat well and get exercise. Because of this experience, I still see fresh produce as having a huge value. I will always be incredibly thankful when a colleague/friend brings in extra fruit fresh from his own trees.
This dish was created with the persimmons and oranges that were brought into the office as well as a beet I already had sitting in my fridge. I added a few “splurges” with the arugula and toppings but the oil and vinegar were already in my pantry. My budget has far more wiggle room than it did nine years ago but I think I will always have an appreciation for creating a dish out of what is inexpensively available.
- Add the pepitas to the salad just before serving so they keep their crunch.
- The creamy ricotta gives a nice mix of texture among in this salad but feel free to leave it out if you’re making it for a vegan crowd.
AUTUMN HARVEST SALAD
- 2 cups Arugula
- 2 Large red beets cooked, sliced and quartered
- 4 Persimmons sliced
- 4 Small oranges peeled, halved and sliced - be sure to remove any seeds
- 2 Tablespoons Ricotta cheese
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Apple cider vinegar for drizzling
- 1 Tablespoon Curly leaf parsley chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Roasted pepitas
- Spread arugula on a serving platter then top with beets, persimmons and oranges. Place pea-sized bits of ricotta throughout salad. Sprinkle salt and drizzle oil and vinegar over salad. Top with parsley, and pepitas.