Thursday, January 24, 2013

Citrus Salad

I don’t know what it is about the winter months that makes me crave citrus so much, but I do.  I can’t seem to get enough of it.  I eat grapefruit, oranges, and clementines, and squeeze lemon on everything.  Maybe I have scurvy.  Luckily I don't seem to have any of the symptoms I read about online.  So I created this salad to give myself a serious dose of the sunshine fruits. 

I use spinach because it is more sturdy than the average green and the texture holds up nicely with the grapefruit and orange segments.  Arugula would be an interesting substitute.  Carrots add crunch and sweetness.  Avocado provides the rich, creamy element and toasted almonds complete the taste. Walnuts would also be a good choice.  Just about any green or nut could be used, the important ingredients are the citrus and the avocado.  A little Dijon mustard in the champagne vinaigrette adds a pungent foil to the sweet, tart citrus.  Now I can’t stop eating this salad.  Which is a good thing after the over-indulgent holidays.

Toss the greens, carrots, and vinaigrette in a bowl to lightly coat.  Add any juice from the sectioned fruit and toss with the greens to add a bright note and a touch of sweetness.  Put dressed greens on plates and arrange orange, grapefruit, and avocado on top.   Sprinkle with toasted almonds.  (The almonds can be toasted in a 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned.  It really brings out the flavor of the nuts.)

The easiest way to make a vinaigrette is put all the ingredients in a glass jar, seal tightly with the lid and shake vigorously. The vinaigrette emulsifies perfectly in a few seconds and your arms gets a mini work-out as a bonus.  

I love fresh cracked pepper, but I like to add it to the dressing instead of on top of the salad.  I can't tell you the number of times I have been in a restaurant and the waiter has artfully cracked pepper on my salad only for me to be choking moments later on the pepper. Nothing stops the conversation quicker than a coughing fit from pepper stuck in the throat. Adding the pepper to the salad dressing seems to eliminate the problem. Or maybe I should talk less during the salad course.

Store any unused vinaigrette in the refrigerator.  The vinaigrette recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.  

Citrus Salad

3-4 cups spinach
1 carrot
1 grapefruit
1 orange
1 avocado
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Champagne Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons (1 oz/30 ml) champagne or white-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz/45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste

Wash and dry spinach.  Peel and cut carrot into rounds.  Mix together ingredients for vinaigrette in a glass jar.  Seal tightly and shake until emulsified.  Section grapefruit and oranges.  Slice avocado.  Toss spinach and carrots with vinaigrette and put on plates.  Arrange citrus and avocado on top.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Makes two generous salads. The recipe easily doubles. 

Citrus update

In my continued obsession with this salad I swapped the spinach and almonds for arugula and pistachios.  I left the carrots out because I was too eager to eat the salad.  The combination is fabulous. The peppery arugula and nutty pistachios create a perfect harmony.  Now I can't decide which combination I like the best.  You be the judge.


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