By MATT CRANE
If planning a wedding were as simple as her salad recipes, Delores Johnson would have it made.
Johnson, a resident of Starkville, is currently spending most of her free time organizing her upcoming nuptials to Joey Brennan, a Web and multimedia specialist at the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit.
“I can’t believe that it’s almost here,” Johnson said.
Although her time is consumed with preparing all the arrangements for the wedding, Johnson allows time to entertain family and friends throughout the week.
“We typically entertain people for dinner at least once a week,” she said.
And with summer quickly approaching, Johnson looks to local farmers and markets for inspiration and ingredients for her cooking, she said.
“Buying local is important to me,” she said.
Johnson is a frequent visitor of the Starkville Community Market, and has a long friendship with Ali Fratesi of Beaverdam Farms based out of Indianola.
“Knowing Ali, who is a dear friend, I trust her,” Johnson said. “I like knowing where my food is coming from.”
Not content in just buying locally, Johnson said she and Brennan have started a small garden of their own in their backyard.
“It’s small, but we’re hoping to grow squash, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes,” she said.
Her Arabic salad recipe is one Johnson grew up eating and found a personal connection with later in life.
“I grew up eating this salad,” she said,”but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I found out we have Lebanese heritage, which made sense of why we’d been eating it for so long.”
The tomato, basil and mozzarella salad embodies all the things Johnson loves about cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
“It’s so simple and easy, but it feels gourmet,” she said. “I try to use ingredients that are seasonal, and that make something light and refreshing.”
Johnson also cites her use of local produce as a means to stay healthy and nutritious.
“Joey and I discussed making a conscience effort to buy locally and eat healthier,” she said.
While they realized this decision may be somewhat more expensive, Johnson said she and Brennan looked at it as a health investment.
“Our diet makes such a difference in how we ultimately function,” she said.
4 English, seedless cucumbers, peeled and diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 C. finely chopped parsley
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp. salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. of olive oil
Toss ingredients together and serve. Pair with hummus and flat bread.
Tomato, Basil and
6 small tomatoes, sliced
10 - 15 basil leaves
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
Combine tomatoes and basil and toss with salt and pepper. Place mozzarella slices on top of salad and drizzle with olive oil. Chill and serve.