I was one of those kids with a messy room – clothes strewn on the floor, books and papers piled up on the desk, stuff everywhere. Things got swallowed up in the mess and resurfaced months after they were no longer needed, often broken or with missing pieces. I existed in that state of disarray except for the uncommon times when my mom would insist that it get cleaned up, generally after too many of her things had been borrowed and lost. I’d sit on the bed and stare at the mess, eventually dissolving into tears from the massiveness of the task. No idea what to tackle first. Paralyzed. That feeling where my shoulders are up around my ears, back against the wall, not sure where to start. I’m feeling that again these days.
Stress creeps in slowly. It starts with just a small thing and then just two small things and then at some point it’s so many that I can’t see how I got so deep in without noticing. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang out of how best to clean up my own messes. I flounder a bit, wade deeper into the mess until I can see it clearly and start to pick my way out. It gets easier every time – if not the actual simplifying than at least easing the stress. I start in the kitchen. Chopping, mixing, soothing myself with the comfortable familiar before trying to dive into the chaos.
Comfort food means different things depending on the season and when the weather is warm all I want greek salad. Thick cubes of cucumber, tomato, and pepper to make the chopping easier, crumbles of rich feta cheese, lots of lemon-and-oregano dressing. It’s quick to make, the cleanup is easy, and if you leave out the greens you can make it ahead and reach for a bowl whenever the to do list gets too long. And if the stress doesn’t magically melt away, at least it’s easier to face with a full belly.
Makes two side salads or one hearty meal
About 2 cups roughly chopped cucumber, tomato, and red or yellow bell pepper – choose your own ratios, I like a lot of tomato.
Up to ¼ cup crumbled feta – use as much as you like
2 tbs chopped fresh oregano
Juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbs tahini
1 tsp dried oregano (it holds up against the acid better than fresh which turns a bit brown)
Salt to taste
COMBINE lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, oregano, and up to ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and whisk to combine. Set the dressing aside.
TOSS cucumber, tomoto, pepper, feta, and oregano in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss again. Eat now or later or whenever you need a little comfort.