Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Green Salad with Oranges and Fresh Orange Dressing

Salad Bowl with Orange Salad
Winning Combo: Oranges and Greens

Recipe by Robin

It’s the end of orange season in California, and I’ve been trying all month to make a citrus glaze for chicken. My husband calls this “successive approximation” of a recipe. After several trials with “nearly delicious” results, I thought of a simpler orange idea: a salad with orange slices and orange dressing, inspired by the huge heads of red leaf lettuce we’ve been getting from our CSA.

Until recently I knew nothing about oranges. They tasted sour to me, so I never bought them. This past winter I started getting educated. According to my husband, a native Californian, Valencia oranges are classic juice oranges. Not only are they juicy, but more importantly the juice’s flavor doesn’t change much once it’s out of the orange. Navel oranges are also juicy, but the flavor becomes unpleasant if stored for more than a few hours. If you store freshly squeezed orange juice, refrigerate it and use it within a few days. On the US east coast, finding juice-able oranges is easier, since Florida’s best juicing oranges are known simply as juice oranges.

Red Leaf Lettuce, Oranges, Cilantro, Red Cabbage
Colorful Ingredients
With the oranges for the dressing selected, I started researching oranges for the salad itself. A man in the produce section of my favorite natural foods store was carefully evaluating navel oranges. When he struck up a conversation, I asked if navel oranges were good in salads. Surprised by my ignorance, he said “no, no, no” on the navels and directed me to the blood oranges and minneolas. I couldn’t get past the name “blood oranges,” so picked up a few minneolas, which seemed to me more like tangelos: part tangerine and part orange. This was confirmed in a taste-test at home, and my husband and I agreed that tangerines have no place in an orange salad. Luckily, I’d impulsively picked up some Cara Cara oranges too. These proved to taste extremely sweet with a bit of cranberry-like zing and were a lovely pinkish-orange color. Lucky guess, that.

My idea for the dressing came from an email “Tip of the Week” for weight loss from circa 1999 that I saved but never tried. It was simply juice from ½ orange with a little white wine vinegar and a hefty dose of olive oil. I wanted a light, sweet, yet zingy dressing, so replaced the olive oil with walnut oil, which has a lighter taste. You could choose sunflower, almond, safflower, etc. Avoid corn and canola oils in the US unless they’re organic; both of these crops are frequently genetically engineered (GMOs). You might also combine one of these lighter oils with a little olive oil.

Two Large Heads of Red Leaf Lettuce in Basket with Finger Pointing at it
The Main Reason for the Salad
You could use all white wine vinegar if you don’t have raspberry on hand. In that case, use no more than 3 tsp. total. Raspberry vinegar adds both sweet and sour notes along with some extra fruitiness. Simple instructions to make your own here.

Individual oranges vary in juiciness, but I estimate you’ll need about 1½ oranges to make the dressing. Two oranges should do it, but buy an extra in case they’re dry, especially as it’s the end of the season.

You can cut this recipe in half or vary the proportions of fruits and veggies. Don’t skip the pumpkin seeds, though. They add a smoky, crunchy contrast to all the soft sweetness. Enjoy!

Sunburst of Orange Sections on Greens
Arranging the Whole Orange Sections
Green Salad with Oranges and Fresh Orange Dressing
serves about 10

2 large heads red leaf lettuce
½ bunch cilantro, or more to taste
~ ¾ cup thinly sliced red cabbage
3 Cara Cara or other sweet oranges
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp. fresh Valencia orange juice
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
¼ tsp. sugar
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp. walnut oil
2 dashes of salt
freshly ground pepper


Cut the bottoms off the lettuce heads and wash thoroughly to remove all dirt. Spin dry in a salad spinner. Blot off any remaining water with a kitchen towel and tear into bite-sized pieces. You will have about 9 cups. Put into salad bowl and chill in refrigerator.

Wash cilantro. Spin dry and remove leaves from stems. Chill.

If necessary, cut thinly sliced purple cabbage into bite-sized pieces. Chill.

Peel the oranges, removing as much of the white pith as you can. Separate into sections. Cut the sections that don’t look perfect into half. Reserve about 6 of the best-looking sections to top the salad. Chill.


Squeeze, strain, and measure the orange juice. Add raspberry vinegar, white wine vinegar, sugar, water, salt (very lightly) and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk together.

Whisk in oil. Chill dressing.

To Serve:

Add cilantro to lettuce in bowl, reserving a few leaves for the top. Add cut-up sections of oranges to the salad, reserving whole sections for the top. Add purple cabbage. Add half of the pumpkin seeds (2 tbsp.), reserving other half for top.

Toss salad until uniform.

Top with reserved oranges, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro.

Shake or stir dressing till uniform and add just before serving.

No comments:

Post a Comment