Ughhhhh so tired of this winter season. I can’t wait for spring to start and we get all the fresh produce. I mean that’s really all I want. Some spring onions, ramps, asparagus…etc. I can go on and on. But there is hope in the late winter months! It’s still citrus season or about to end peak season for them. I know we just talked about this with our Blood Orange Upside Down Whiskey Cake, but we just needed more citrus in our lives. We went a little crazy and bought every kind we could find at the time. Our favorites made it to this salad. It was also interesting to taste a normal orange against all the other types. We juiced all our left overs and the menagerie of citrus juices was quite enjoyable. The three citrus fruits we are talking about are blood oranges, pomeloes and cara cara oranges. Those last ones, the cara cara oranges, if you see them you should get them. Their color and flavor is superb.
Now for a little history/ ingredient lesson. The cara cara orange is a navel orange that is a cross between two navel oranges. Discovered in Valencia, Venezuela in the late 70’s. They contain less acid then the conventional orange, which leads to a sweeter flavor. When I tried them I also tasted some light berry flavor, pretty unusual but damn tasty. I really enjoyed these that I couldn’t stop eating them. Nicole and I agreed, these were the best oranges we had tasted. Also Nicole can’t eat oranges unless they are segmented, meaning all pith and skin removed. The process removes the sometimes chewy skin of the fruit leaving only the juiciest and flavorful part. She might be weird, but she’s got me eating citrus like this now. A little more work then just peeling it but the results are better. Also much prettier.
We wanted this salad to be as fresh as it can be so we had to come up with a dressing that would mimic that. We landed on green harissa. It’s more or less an herb puree with peppers, garlic, lemon juice and oil. For this dish we changed it up by going with the currently seasonal shishitio pepper and an Anhimem pepper. The latter of the two I had never heard of before but it was green and we like to try out things we’ve never seen before. A quick review, flavorful with a mild pepper flavor and a little bit of spice. This was perfect for what we needed it for. The herbs we used for this dressing were chives (for a light onion flavor) cilantro and parsley. Buzz it all up in the food processor with a little bit of oil and call it a day. Be careful, you want this to be a little chunky so you can see it, so don’t buzz it up too much. I think we did about 5 pulses and were happy with the consistency. We make harissa at work a lot, also known as zhug (or schug) but it’s a little more intensely spicy. We wanted to tone that down for our audience but feel free to adjust on your spice tolerance. If its high use thai bird’s eye chilies and if it’s low just use a green bell pepper.
The last, well second to last ingredient is the escarole. I don’t usually use this in salads because it is too bitter, so they do better for cooking like soups. However, Nicole informed me that the inner most leaves are tender and not extremely bitter like the outer leaves. She literally took out about 2/3 of the outer leaves to get to the ones she wanted…I guess we are making soup soon with all these left over leaves. The escarole added a nice flavor to go with slight spice of the green harissa. It was good but we needed a nutty ingredient. So we went with toasted almonds. They have a light flavor and a good crunch. Just what we needed.
Citrus and Escarole SaladPrint This
- Escarole (light inner leaves), Chopped
- Assorted Citrus, Segmented
- Toasted Almonds
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1/2 Cup Assorted Green Peppers, Rough Chopped
- 1 Bunch Cilantro
- 1/4 Bunch Chives
- 1/8 Cup Mixed Citrus Juice (Use leftovers from segmenting)
- 1/8 Cup Lemon Juice
- 1/4 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
Add garlic, peppers, cilantro, chives, citrus juices, and coriander into a food processor. Pulse until combined, but still chunky. Drizzle in olive oil. Toss dressing with the segmented citrus and escarole. Top with toasted almonds.
We hope this salad bring you joy and excitement for the spring. We are most definitely looking forward to that spring weather. It’s only officially spring in about two more weeks but the seasonal veggies won’t be for another month or so. But who knows what will start popping up in our farmers markets thanks to this warmer weather. Anyhow see you next week.