The other day, when I was at the library making packets for our library expansion campaign, I said to Shane, one of our librarian extraordinaires, “It’s almost time for lunch. Today I’m going to have a toasted English muffin with ricotta, oregano, honey, and walnuts.”
“Sounds great,” Shane said. “Is this a lunch for friends?”
“No, just for me,” I replied.
Although this is an easy lunch to prepare, it does sound rather fancy, something we wouldn’t make “just” for ourselves. But in the refrigerator I had a smidgen of leftover ricotta, which I hated to throw away, and somehow the combination of ricotta, oregano, honey, and walnuts came to me that morning as I was doing chores. (I have an ongoing habit of daydreaming about food, which makes it extremely difficult to maintain a healthy weight.)
As soon as I came home from the library, I put my plan into action. I toasted the English muffin in the toaster—this could also be done under the broiler. After the muffin was toasted, I put the two halves into a small pan—an 8 x 8—and I spread 1 tablespoon of ricotta on each half. Then I sprinkled each half with some dried oregano—fresh, of course, would be best, but this time of year, fresh isn’t that easy to come by. (Don’t get me started on those pathetic “fresh” herbs that come in the little plastic containers.) Next came a swirl of honey on the English muffin halves. Finally, the pièce de résistance, 2 walnut halves on top of the ricotta, oregano, and honey. (Walnut lovers who are trim could use as many as 4 on each muffin half. Alas, this walnut lover is not that trim.)
I set the pan under the broiler for a few minutes, taking care not to burn the walnuts. I had to keep a sharp eye on those nuts. The amount of time it takes for a walnut to go from brown to burnt can be measured in milliseconds.
Here is what I got with the very first bite: the crunch of the toasted muffin followed by the smooth ricotta that was made both sweet and spicy by the honey and the oregano, topped by the rich, deep crunch of the walnut.
Pretty fancy for one person, but why not? Aren’t we worth it?
I took my muffin, along with some celery and carrot sticks, outside to the patio. As I ate, the dog begged for bites—which he got—the orange cat lay in the chair across from me, and birds flew from the trees to the feeders. It was lunchtime for them, too.
As I ate, I reflected on how Shane was right: This would make a nice lunch for friends, and I begin thinking of a summer luncheon, where I would serve these ricotta muffins along with a green salad and some fruit slices, perhaps cantaloup. The day would be sunny and warm, and we would eat on the patio, where we could admire the flowers in the garden and the deep green woods on the edge of the yard. For a drink, there would be freshly brewed ice tea. For dessert, homemade raspberry ice cream and perhaps lemon-frosted shortbread to go with it.
A luncheon to celebrate summer, beautiful summer.