The reason I got up

This is the reason I got up this morning.

Okay, so not really.

I mean, it was partly the reason, but not all of the reason.

The other reasons I got up were because the light sky outside my bedroom window made the dream inside my head turn off.

And I got up because I dreamed that my brother was flying to Qatar where he’ll be working for a couple months (and consequently missing the big bash that he talked me into hosting, the stinker). (Not stinker for making me host it but stinker, royal stinker, for missing it.) And I was all like man, did he just go and fly halfway around the world without calling me first? The stinker! (He called me this afternoon from the airport. Now he can go halfway around the world.)

The other reason I got up is because I remembered we had gotten a fresh load of library books the night before and I knew if I got busy I could get quite a few things done while the kids lost themselves in the mountain of books.

The other reason I got up was because, while I lay there thinking about plane trips and library books, I thought I heard one of the kids calling for me which made my whole body tense in preparation for a forthcoming leap out of bed and charge down the hall to the offending child’s room where I would attempt to hiss the twerp into silence.

The noise, however, was just a barking dog.

But I certainly couldn’t go back to sleep after that adrenaline rush. I needed coffee.

Besides, the other half of the bed was empty and I was curious as to what the dude who sleeps there was up to. (He was cleaning.)

About the time I threw my covers back, I recalled yesterday’s lunch, which is what you see in the pictures. And then I got all sorts of hungry and excited. I thought about making myself another skillet-full right off the bat for breakfast but then decided to wait.

And now, several hours later, I just finished my lunch, and boy oh boy, was it worth the wait. While the kids slurped up their green smoothies (ever since the spinach has come up, they’ve been begging me to make them) and munched on thick slices of freshly-baked sourdough bread smeared with peanut butter and drizzled with honey, I plowed into my made-to-order lunch and proceeded to rave profusely. (The kids just rolled their eyes and said no thank you when I stabbed loaded forkfulls in their general direction.)

I got the idea for my lunch from Julie but ended up changing it just a bit. Because yesterday, when I was on my way back in from raiding the garden for spinach and a couple baby purple onions, I passed by the lettuce patch and the fresh scent of new dill fronds—they’re coming up all over the place—caught my imagination so I snatched up a few.

In the kitchen, the pot that I had earlier used to fry up a pound of bulk sausage, was still sitting on the stove. Into the kettle I tossed my chopped onions and a little drizzle of olive oil. A teensy bit of sausage (maybe a tablespoon?) was next. And then a couple handfuls of torn spinach. I stirred it around till the leaves began to darken ever so slightly and then added a spoonful of leftover cooked rice. As soon as the spinach appeared to droop a little (not wilted, and definitely not cooked—it should still retain some crunch), I dumped the contents of the pan onto my plate where I added the finishing touches: some crumbled feta, a very generous squeeze or two of lemon, lots of fresh dill fronds (at least a tablespoon, and maybe two), and several grinds of black pepper. (Today’s lunch included some sliced baby radishes as well.)

This salad has made some of the best lunches I have had in a long time. It is deeply satisfying, thanks to the sausage and rice, and yet brisk with all the bright springtime flavors.

Lemony Spinach and Rice Salad with Fresh Dill and Feta
Inspired by Julie

This salad can be served at room temperature or cold, which means it’s perfect for packed lunches.

Feel free to experiment with different types of rice, orzo, quinoa, or any other grain that tickles your fancy.

I do not measure when making this salad; the guesstimated measurements are to give you a general idea.

a little olive oil, bacon grease, or butter
1-2 baby onions, chopped
a couple handfuls of fresh spinach, torn
1 tablespoon cooked bulk sausage, optional
1-2 scoops (about ½ cup) cooked rice
1 tablespoon feta cheese
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill fronds
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
sliced radishes, optional
freshly ground black pepper

Cook the onions in a little fat. Add the cooked sausage, if using, and the spinach. Once the spinach has started to darken just a little, add the cooked rice. After about a minute of cooking and stirring, when the spinach is slightly droopy though still crisp, dump the contents of the pan onto a serving plate. Top with the remaining ingredients and dig in.

This makes enough for one large serving.

This same time, years previous: hummus and rhubarb sorbet


  • Margo

    oh thank you for this inspiration – I needed a perky new spring recipe. (and I HATE adrenaline rushes so early in the morning – can't sleep, but can't work hard yet either. . . )

  • Jennifer Jo

    Karen, I'm so glad the pie worked for you! And the crust too. That crust recipe is one of my favorite and easiest things to make. Makes me feel like a goddess every time.

  • Karen

    I wanted to let you know that yesterday I made the rhubarb cream pie you posted about a bit ago. Yum! And, I really like the butter pie crust. I usually steer clear of making pies because I struggle with the crust so much. But, this crust was easy…and delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipes!

  • teekaroo

    Hmmm. I wish my garden were a bit further along. The spinach is just getting going and the dill looks pretty pathetic. I'll tuck this one away for a future day.

  • Zoë

    This looks so tasty. And I think I have everything but the lemon. Will give in and buy a few tonight at the grocery store. Kate, care to join me for lunch on Friday?

Leave a Comment