Sunday, March 14, 2021

Winter into Spring Salad

Recently while scrolling Instagram a beautiful salad from AOC in Los Angeles caught my eye.   It isn’t really surprising that this happened…I love Suzanne Goin’s salads.  They are always beautiful.  But more importantly, they taste even better than they look.  She has a gift for combining not only colors and shapes, but textures and flavors.  I don’t think I have made all the salads in her book Sunday Suppers at Lucques…but I have made a lot of them (some I have shared on my blog).  I have never been disappointed.

Of course I didn’t have a recipe for the salad pictured on Instagram, but that didn’t stop me from making it.  The combination of arugula (a long time favorite lettuce) and radicchio (my current favorite winter “green”) with oranges, dates, pistachios and goat cheese rang all my bells.  And because I have been keeping radicchio as part of my “lettuce pantry” this winter, I had all the ingredients on hand.

I did make a couple of changes to the salad.
  First, I added some roasted beets. I don’t always have roasted beets in my fridge, but for some reason that escapes me now, I had some.  When I began pulling the ingredients for the salad out on the day I intended to make it for lunch, I pulled out the beets because my memory of the picture included beets.  When I checked the IG post before I made my salad to make sure I had everything, I realized there were no beets in the image.  All I can say is that they clearly belonged in my version of the salad. 

The other change I made was the kind of cheese. I had goat cheese out and was going to use it, but decided at the last minute while I was making the salad that I wanted a salty element.  So I used Feta instead of goat cheese. It was delicious—not only did I really like the salt with the sweet beets and dates, I liked the crumblier, firmer texture of the Feta.

I mentioned in my last post that I like to keep a versatile mustard and shallot based vinaigrette on hand.
  The one I had in my fridge was a simple champagne vinaigrette that is good with bitter winter greens (like radicchio) and winter fruits… so that’s the one I used.  It worked very well. 

The salad was just excellent.
  I’m sharing it here as I made it: for one.  But it would be an easy thing to multiply the ingredients to make a big platter for a crowd…or several individual plated salads.

The day I made the salad, I posted a picture of the salad on Instagram.
  When my sister-in-law saw it she commented that the plate just screamed springtime.  I was struck by her comment because the ingredients (citrus…winter lettuces….beets…) seemed very wintery to me.  But she was right about the brilliant colors.  So I’m calling this my “Winter into Spring Salad.” 


Winter into Spring Salad
(Arugula with Radicchio, Citrus & Dates)

1/2 a large or 1 small, Cara cara orange
1/2 oz. Arugula
1/2 oz. Radicchio (about 2 leaves), torn into large bite-sized pieces
1 T. (or to taste) Champagne Vinaigrette (see below)
1 medium beet (about 3 oz.), roasted and cut into 8 to 10 wedges or halved and sliced crosswise (dressed with lemon or vinegar of your choice, if you like)
2 Medjool dates, pitted and each cut into 6 to 7 lengthwise strips
A mounded tablespoon of pistachios, lightly toasted (or not—as you prefer) and very coarsely chopped
1 oz. Feta in brine, broken/crumbled

Prepare the orange:  Slice off the stem and blossom ends. 
Set the fruit so that it is resting on one of the flat, cut surfaces.  Using a thin, sharp knife, cut away the rind in strips.  As you cut, follow the contour of the fruit with your knife and use the previous cut to guide where you make the next cut so that you remove all of the peel, pith and membrane...but as little of the flesh as possible. Slice from top to bottom and rotate the fruit as you make each cut.  You should end up with a smooth, sphere of citrus that is free of membrane, pith and peel.  Cut the orange in half from top to bottom (direction of the segments).  If the orange is large, I only use one half.  If small, I’ll use the whole thing.  Cut the halves into quarters, lay them on their side and cut cross-wise in quarter inch or so slices.

Place the arugula and radicchio in a small bowl. Season with salt and drizzle with enough vinaigrette to barely coat—don’t weigh the greens down with the dressing…you can drizzle more over the salad after you build it.
  Toss to thoroughly coat the lettuces.  Give the beets a drizzle of the vinaigrette and season with salt & pepper if you didn’t dress them with vinegar and season them when you roasted them.

Scatter half of the greens over the plate.
  Arrange half of all the other elements over the greens.  Repeat these two layers.  Drizzle with more vinaigrette and serve.  Serves 1…but multiplies easily to serve as many as you like.

Champagne vinaigrette:
2 T. Champagne vinegar
1 small shallot, peeled and finely minced (1 1/2 to 2 T.)
1/4 t. salt, or to taste
1 t. Dijon mustard
6 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Make the vinaigrette:  Place the vinegar in a small bowl with the shallots and salt.  Set aside for five minutes or so to let the shallots soften a bit. Add the mustard and whisk until smooth. While whisking constantly, add the olive oil in a thin stream to form a slightly thickened, emulsified dressing.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt.  Set aside.

Printable Version

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