After a weekend of binge eating in Bloomington, Indiana, Neil and I were craving a simple and healthy dinner. We had been at Indiana University, my alma mater, with Neil’s brother and our sister-in-law to watch the Little 500 bike race. Neil’s brother Brian also went to IU so we were both very excited to get back to our college town and show our significant others all of our college memories. Most of my memories included food.
I hadn’t been back to Bloomington since I graduated in 2006, so it was a special treat. We ate a giant dinner Friday night at Scholar’s Inn. I demanded that we hit up Scotty’s for waffle fries and ranch dressing for lunch on Saturday before the race. Scotty’s came out with a gluten free menu and a few days before we left for the trip I noticed both the ranch and the fries weren’t on the menu. I figured this would happen, but to be safe I gave them a call while I was still in New York so I could prep myself for depression. Of course, the lovely Scotty’s hostess confirmed that both items were not gluten free. I cried for a minute, but then took solace in the fact that at least I had the memories of how amazing those delicious spiced waffle fries were, especially paired with the most amazing ranch dressing on the planet.
I also had to hit up Jimmy John’s. They serve an unwich, which is just a lettuce wrap, so it’s not all that exciting – but on principle I had do go. And here’s why…Neil (unintentionally) took away my last shot at ever eating a proper Jimmy John’s sandwich. It was October of 2009. Neil and I were in Athens, GA – his college town – to watch the UGA play LSU. The dreaded celiac had not been diagnosed yet and I told Neil that my only request while we were in Athens was to hit up Jimmy John’s. NYC has no Jimmy John’s. I missed it. It was a quick and simple request. Well…we ran late to to the tail gate (and G-d forbid we miss out on 10-minutes of drinking) so Neil promised we would stop at Jimmy John’s on the way out of town. Well…on the way out of town everyone wanted to go to some calzone place (which honestly wasn’t all that good, if you ask the person who was craving a Beach Club sandwich). Needless to say, time ran out and there was no stop-off at JJ’s. I was devastated. Neil told me cheer up – “You can always get Jimmy John’s next time we are in Atlanta. It’s not like you’ll never eat it again!”. I believe in that moment he put a gluten hex on me. Three months later I was diagnosed with celiac.
So after stops at all the Bloomington highlights – including the ever famous my-parents-are-in-town-so-let’s-go-to Malibu Grill – we got home, felt gross and needed to do something healthy. I was craving a fancy meal, but didn’t feel like doing much prep – as per usual. My friend Stephanie makes incredible salmon and always talks about how simple it is. She inspired me to come up with this disgustingly easy baked salmon recipe. I paired it with this simple watercress salad as well as some bagged frozen rice that I doctored up with a little lemon, scallions and salt. Dinner took a total of 15-minutes. And it was so good that I made it again on Friday night for company.