Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunny Citrus Salad

Late winter can be a hard stretch for me, and this year it seems even worse.  I love the change of seasons, and I even love snow.  But by the end of February, I'm usually over it.  And since this winter we've had more snow and cold than is typical for Colorado, I'm really, truly over it.

Over.  It.

Maybe that's why citrus is in peak season now.  It gives us all something sunny to help us through the winter.

Sunny Citrus Salad
Based on Thomas Keller's little gem salad in his ad hoc at home cookbook, this salad serves two.  Our local market didn't have the little gem lettuce he suggests using, which he says is like a cross between romaine and butter lettuces.  So the first time I made this salad I used some butter lettuce we had on hand, and the next time I used a combination of baby greens.  Both worked very well.

I also learned from this cookbook a new way to segment citrus fruit.  See instructions below.

4 cups salad greens
2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 pieces of citrus fruit (use a combination of blood orange, tangerine, ruby red grapefruit, whatever you like)
2 Tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
Fresh tarragon leaves
Fresh mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Toast the chopped walnuts on a cookie sheet for about 4 minutes; remove to a plate (so they won't keep cooking on the pan) and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

In a large salad bowl, drizzle desired amount of dressing (recipe below) around the sides of the bowl.  Go easy on the dressing, you can always add more.  Add the salad greens and red onion to the bowl and sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper; toss with your hands.

Plate the greens and arrange the citrus fruit on top.  Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and walnuts, then tear the fresh herbs over the top.

Honey Vinaigrette Dressing:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
3 Tablespoons honey

Measure out the canola and virgin olive oils in a one-cup measuring cup with a spout (so you can use it to pour into the blender).  Put the vinegar and honey in a blender (I use a Vitamix, LOVE IT) and blend to combine.

Remove the inner circle of the lid of your blender, and sloooowly drizzle in the oil.

Transfer extra dressing to a covered container, to store in the refrigerator for future use.  You'll see the oil separates and solidifies when the dressing is chilled; just remove the dressing from the fridge and let it sit out for a bit before using. Shake the container once it comes to room temperature, and it'll combine again beautifully.

To Segment Citrus Fruit:
First, sharpen your knife (trust me on this).  Then cut off the top and bottom and stand it upright.

Remove the peel by cutting from top to bottom along the outside.

If necessary, use your knife to remove the ring of peel that may be left behind.

Cut along the left side of the membrane and when your knife reaches the bottom turn it counter-clockwise so the blade scrapes along the opposite membrane.

It takes some practice, but the segments end up looking much better--and you waste less fruit--than with other methods.  And any segments that get mangled in the process, just toss them to your citrus-loving dog.

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