Spring Green is about 45 minutes west of Madison. They started coming before I ever set sights on Madison as a potential school to go to—before I graduated, took a job, made a life, and bought a house here. When I was in college living in exposed-wire houses with 8 other people, they would politely stop by, sometimes take me with them, and then make their way back to Chicago or rent a hotel for the weekend. Now that I’m a fully functioning adult, with a guest bedroom, things work a little different.
So much so, that this has become one of my favorite summer traditions. They come, we prepare boatloads of salads and sandwiches and snacks that are loaded up into a cooler, and then we take a short drive.
It’s always a joy, but this year was especially pleasant because the temperature was comfortable for the outdoor theater. You see, it’s normally about 90 degrees and you’re sitting in the beating sun, sticking to your seat while trying to interpret Shakespeare’s meaning. Or it’s like last year, where the July weekend we choose to go to Spring Green was a fluke 50 degrees, and we ended up wrapping up in blankets for the evening performance.
But this year was ideal, and the food was noteworthy as well. Particularly, this black and white bean salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella was a winner. Dense and flavorful but still summer appropriate. The longer it sits, the more the ingredients soak in the dressing and the tastier the salad gets, thus, it’s perfect for a make-ahead-picnic.