Thursday, January 10, 2013

citrus salad with creamy poppy seed dressing

citrus salad with creamy poppyseed dressing

I know: a salad in January is so cliché, but I promise, I’m not here to sell you some diet plan, or urge you to eat healthier, or stop baking cookies and cake. It’s winter after all, and turning my oven on keeps the house warmer. Besides, I like cookies and cake so much, I’ve never been one to stop eating sweets once the New Year turns up. My mantra is the same as it’s always been: eat what you want to eat and be happy. Life is too short otherwise.

We tend to eat a lot of citrus this time of year. I suspect you do too because there’s not that much other fruit around that excites. It feels warmer, sunnier just eating an orange segment; it’s a good antidote to puffy coats, hats, and scarves. We stockpile our citrus: oranges, clementines, grapefruit all sitting in the crisper at the same time. I like having options; who knows what I’ll feel like eating for a snack? And oftentimes we cut up citrus into this salad to give this one and that one a break.

this is going to get messy

Salads are fabulously forgiving things; it’s pretty hard to mess them up. You can swap ingredients in and out without much risk. If you happen to dislike a particular element, you can easily omit it or use something else. Proportions are not etched in stone. Want far more grapefruit than oranges in your salad—go right ahead. I won’t stop you (and besides, even if I wanted to, I can’t—I’m not in the kitchen with you). What I do want to urge you, however, is to make it with the dressing as written below—it’s pretty fabulous, I must tell you. So fabulous, in fact, that my where’s-the-beef husband mentioned how delicious it was not once, not twice, but three times the night that I first made it. And then he proceeded to eat the whole thing.

What I think is critical in the dressing is the crème fraîche. It has the right thickness and the right amount of tanginess and it works beautifully with the cut up citrus. You can always use sour cream in its place, but steer clear of buttermilk—it’s far too thin and watery to properly coat the fruit.

say it with me: supreming!

I wanted to tell you about this salad last month, but the days got away from me and here I find myself a third of the way into the month of January. Everyone is writing about resolutions and I can’t quite bring myself to get them down on paper. It’s not that I’m not committed, but I don’t know if I’m ready to say, “I resolve” instead of “I’d like to”. Some things I’d like to keep private, other ones are so silly, I feel disingenuous mentioning them here: Learn how to deal with my mail immediately and not let it pile up on my desk until payments are late and I don’t know what is what; File my taxes quarterly this year; get my driver’s license (yes, feel free to poke fun at me here). Along the lines there are more exciting goals and adventures: finally go on our honeymoon—we’re thinking either Costa Rica or Jamaica; see our niece more; take more weekend trips to nearby towns; go easier on myself.

citrus salad with creamy poppyseed dressing

So for now, I am just letting myself ease into the year, one forkful of this salad at a time. And for the moment, I’m okay with that.

More Winter Salads:
Fennel Tangerine Salad
Apple and Fennel Salad

Citrus Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

Adapted from Food and Wine

Like I said above, salads are generously forgiving. In my version here, I omitted the limes, used a little less dressing, swapped out regular lemon for a Meyer lemon, reduced the amount of maple syrup as I don’t like my salad dressing particularly sweet. Also, as you can see from the pictures, I forgot to add shallot for the photo shoot. Sorry! I prefer to use a mix of Navel, Cara Cara, and blood oranges, but all our local stores had this time around were regular Navel oranges. It looks very pretty with many difference varieties of fruit. Finally, you can chuck grapefruit, swap in tangerines, clementines, or Satsumas. Whatever your heart desires.

I tested the dressing with buttermilk, but it proved to be too runny and flat against the citrus. My favorite, hands down, was crème fraîche. (Yes, I tested the dressing with four different bases.)

6 oranges (I prefer to use a mix of different oranges)
1 red grapefruit
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons torn fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon, torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or full-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Fine sea salt, to taste

1. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully peel the oranges and grapefruit, removing all the bitter white pith. Working over a small bowl to catch the juices fro m the fruit, cut in between the membranes to release the sections (this is called supreming). Cut the grapefruit sections into thirds and leave the orange segments whole. Transfer all the citrus to a serving bowl and add the shallot and fresh herbs. Reserve the citrus juice for another use (see Citrus Vinaigrette recipe below).

2. In another small bowl, whisk together the zest, with the lemon juice, crème fraîche, maple syrup, and poppy seeds. Season the dressing slightly with salt. Pour the dressing over the fruit, toss the salad gently and serve right away. [You can make the dressing the day before and refrigerate. Whisk gently before adding to the citrus.]

Serves 4 to 6

****

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (can be a mix of orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon finely grated citrus zest
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the citrus juice, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. Let stand for 1 minute, so that the salt dissolves. Whisk in the olive oil, zest, and pepper. Drizzle over salad. Dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Makes about 6 tablespoons of dressing.

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16 Comments

  • 1

    This salad is STUNNING. I’m a bit anti-salad in January due to its cliche (which might be cliche in itself, alas) but I definitely need to make this one as soon as possible. Yum!

    January 10, 2013 3:58 pm
  • 2
    olga said:

    Stephanie – I am SO with you on salads in January. But this one is really fantastic. Too fantastic to wait to talk about.

    January 10, 2013 4:03 pm
  • 3

    Cliche or not, I’m definitely in the mood for a good salad, and this looks absolutely gorgeous! Happy new year!

    January 10, 2013 6:13 pm
  • 4

    I love using citrus in winter salads and this one looks so delicious with the creamy dressing.

    January 10, 2013 10:01 pm
  • 5
    Kristen said:

    Such a beautiful creation!

    January 11, 2013 9:54 am
  • 6
    Alejandra said:

    I don’t have a license either! I might get one this year, thought it’s low on my list of priorities. lol

    January 11, 2013 10:03 am
  • 7
    olga said:

    Ladies – thanks so much! Alejandra – omg, you too? Twinsies! Good luck to you. Maybe we can send one another supportive vibes.

    January 11, 2013 10:15 am
  • 8

    This salad is beautiful. I’d love to have a bowl, with yogurt instead of creme fraiche, first thing in the morning.
    Do you think white poppy seeds would work in this? I don’t get a different kind where I live.

    January 11, 2013 10:45 am
  • 9
    olga said:

    Needful Things – I’ve never seen white poppy seeds – sounds exotic! I should think they would work well too :) You might not see them, but you’ll definitely taste their flavor?

    January 11, 2013 10:50 am
  • 10

    You know how I feel about this salad. I’m smitten. Citrus is my obsession this time of year… can’t wait to try this baby out.

    January 11, 2013 4:17 pm
  • 11
    olga said:

    Brian – then you’ll absolutely love this. btw, have you seen the citrus tart w/salted crust in Bon App last month? It’s on my to-bake asap.

    January 11, 2013 4:54 pm
  • 12
    Suzanne said:

    Beautiful! The oranges and grapefruits are so good right now. I’ve been using a lot of clementines in salads…but I think I’ll make yours tonight.

    January 11, 2013 8:10 pm
  • 13

    I’ve only ever seen white ones, lol. I’ll try to find you a link – I’m from South East Asia and we cook with the white kind (mostly savory stuff, I must add). There’s the occasional black one in the mix but they’re mostly white. Where I’m living right now, they’re not available at all so I just have to improvise :-/

    January 12, 2013 2:08 am
  • 14
    olga said:

    Needful Things – now, I’m going to try to find some in NYC! Southeast Asia sounds fabulous – the food in that region – spectacular.

    January 12, 2013 8:19 am
  • 15
    Jenifer said:

    Yummers! I made this last night and everyone loved it. Added an avocado.

    January 27, 2013 12:08 pm
  • 16

    […] Adapted from the lovely Sassy Radish […]

    January 23, 2014 12:57 am

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