It is Spring here in Australia, my favorite time of year for traveling and the time when I get the strongest wanderlust.
It’s the time of year I want to pack my bag full of sundresses and fly to Italy to meet up with dear friends and wander cobbled streets and spend hours in cafes sipping outrageously strong coffee and dining leisurely on meals of roasted artichokes with lemon and mint, seafood studded pasta, and caramel panna cotta.
But this year I’m focusing on strengthening the roots I’ve established here in Australia so I won’t be jetting off to my beloved Italy.
Still, I can dream, and dream I shall!
I’m reading Italian cookbooks and novels and spending many happy hours dreaming my way through Italian picture books of country homes, lavish villas, tumbledown farms, and gorgeous gardens. It’s almost time for my annual viewing of “A Month by the Lake”, “Under the Tuscan Sun” and any other sun-drenched Italian movies I can think of.
I’m loving it.
So today we’re jaunting to the shores of Lago di Orta in Italy’s Piedmont region and finding a shady bench to sit on while we gaze out at beautiful Isola San Giulio and imagine what it must be like to live on such an island in such a wondrous setting.
When we see a water taxi pull up to the dock, we buy tickets and clamber aboard to explore the island for ourselves. Pretty soon we’re bouncing across the waves, the deliciously cool wind buffeting our hair as the occasional splash of water drenches us.
Our boatman gallantly hands us ashore when we get to Isola San Giulio and we all agree to explore on our own, taking whichever paths seem best to us.
It’s a wonderful idea, for this tiny island is a place of peace and reflection and the sort of beauty you want silence to truly appreciate.
There are quiet corners to sit in, shady nooks to rest awhile and contemplate and do a fair bit of daydreaming.
Daydreaming is something I’ve been doing a lot of on these warm, sunny first days of Spring. I know Italy is not idyllic. It has its glitches and mean people and frustrating quirks like any other place. But it also has incredible beauty and wonderful traditions that enrich meals and relationships that I like to incorporate in my life wherever I am.
I’ve been planting lavender and rosemary – herbs that smell of Italy every time the sun hits them – and using the vivid colors often found on shutters and doors to bring a bit of cheer to our Aussie farm.
And I’ve been cooking simple, delicious, and nourishing food like this Lemony White Bean Salad.
This is one of my favorite dishes for it can be used in so many ways. Studded with ripe Roma tomatoes and salty chunks of tuna, it is brightened with a zesty lemon dressing rich with parsley. I like it for breakfast on top of scrambled eggs, all by itself for lunch, or used over toast as bruschetta for a mid-afternoon snack. The zingy lemon is delicious with all that protein, and it keeps me going for hours.
What beloved place do you dream about returning to?
Lemony White Bean Salad
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 Roma tomatoes, cored and diced
1 can tuna, drained
1 lemon, juiced, pips removed
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
one bunch parsley, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
- In medium bowl add beans, tomatoes, and tuna. Set aside.
- In small bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until emulsified into salad dressing.
- Pour dressing over bean mixture and stir gently to combine.
- Best served at room temperature.