Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blood Orange, Olive, and Arugula Salad

I've recently developed a minor obsession with citrus.  This may be (largely) due to the fact that, for more than a month now,  it's been freezing and snowy and slushy and gray.  When did I move to a strange hybrid of Seattle and Minneapolis?  But my daily 3 pm Cara Cara orange always seems to make me oblivious to the nasty conditions outside.

Despite of the lack of local fruit this time of year (I know there are lots of apples in cold storage, but I really cannot eat another apple for a long time - we were getting 8 pounds a week from our CSA for nearly two months and we ate every single one of them and I am surprised we did not turn into apples), February is the perfect time of year for out of the ordinary citrus: Meyer lemons and Cara Cara and Moro (aka blood) oranges.  All of them are head and shoulders above their run-of-the-mill counterparts, so I try to indulge in them as much as possible for the few weeks I can find them.

I'm a huge fan of citrus in salads - the slight acidity and extreme juiciness pretty much negates the need for vinegar and the sweetness allows for the addition of salty and earthy components such as olives and goat cheese (funny, both are in this salad...).

I really didn't think too much about what was going into this salad - it came together because I was rooting around in the fridge - but, in retrospect, the flavors work together incredibly well.  The olives might seem weird, but they play off the sweet oranges perfectly and the goat cheese is a creamy, slightly funky foil to the two.  Mild crunchy hazelnuts, and a good glug of the best extra virgin olive oil you have (I'm partial to the green stuff bottled by Frankies 457) round it all out and tie it all together.  It's so simple and so easy but this salad is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts.


Blood Orange, Olive, and Arugula Salad
serves 2
vegan if not using cheese; gluten-free

4 ounces baby arugula
1 cara cara orange
1 blood orange
1 oz (approx 2 tablespoons) hazelnuts
2 oz goat cheese (optional)
5-6 large green olives (such as Castelvetrano or Picholine)
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Wash and dry the arugula, then divide between two dinner plates.

Cut the ends off the oranges, then peel them with a sharp knife.  Segment each orange over a bowl to catch the juices, then distribute the orange segments between the two plates, reserving any juice.

This video from Amanda and Merrill of Food52 is an excellent and quick tutorial on how to peel and segment citrus.

Toast the hazelnuts either in a small skillet or in the microwave oven (1 minute on high, stopping halfway through to shake the plate).  Let the nuts cool for a few minutes, then rub them in a clean dish towel to remove as many of the skins as possible.  Coarsely chop the nuts and distribute between the two plates.

Break the goat cheese into small chunks and distribute between the two plates.

Drizzle any remaining orange juice over the arugula, then drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each plate.  Sprinkle each one with half of the salt and pepper and serve immediately.
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