Every time I go into the kitchen to start getting a meal ready, I can count on John Shea Marshall hot on my heels, following right after. He has so much interest in there!! He likes to do the stirring and adding in of ingredients, including ones that are definitely not supposed to go in there, ha. It is amazing to watch his curiosity, how he does things just as he's seen me do and also his enjoyment of helping and being together. He'd rather be outside or in the garage helping Dadda mow the lawn or work on a project, but if none of that is going on, he is my sous chef. My little brother Mikey told me years ago when Cam and I were engaged, that he could see me one day cooking in the kitchen and dancing with music on and all of my little kids helping and dancing with me. I think it's one of my favorite things that anyone has ever said to me. I hope and pray into that, and also ask God to not let me selfishly miss these moments. To not get angry when a favorite dish breaks on accident or dinner is ruined because he thought it was helpful to pour in the jar of flour. To not miss any chance to teach those little helping hands, to include them, to love them, to be patient with them, to dance with them, to pray with them. They are such a precious gift.
Shepherd Pasta Salad (with pasta or without!)
1/2 lb pasta (optional)
2 cucumbers, roughly diced
2 bell peppers, roughly diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
8 oz fresh feta
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 C shredded rotisserie chicken (optional)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 TBS crushed fresh garlic (not canned!)
You can find Šopska Salata (Shepherd's Salad) throughout Croatia. Like most traditional dishes, every household and restaurant seems to have their own slight variation on it. Mine is to add in pasta and rotisserie chicken to make it a full meal, though it's also really good on it's own without the pasta or chicken, and also refreshing later on during summer.
Cook the pasta (if using!) to al dente in well-salted boiling water (1 tsp course sea salt to every 1/2 lb), drain but don't rinse. Toss with olive oil to keep it from sticking and set aside.
Place the cucumbers, peppers, red onion, tomatoes, parsley, feta and sea salt in a large bowl. Pour the red wine vinegar and the fresh garlic into a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil until combined. Pour over the vegetables and toss. Taste, add in more vinegar if you would like it tangier and more flavorful, one tablespoon at a time. Enjoy!