Winter to Spring; Citrus and Other Seasonal Salad Inspirations

The premise is simple; take what’s outside, bring it inside and eat it. What’s in the garden right now? Weeds and citrus, that’s what. All types of citrus hit the spot at this time of year, so they are easy to add to everything. .. and the weeds…well I find the best way to deal with them is to eat as many of them as I can.

 

citrus plate

Citrus rainbow; Cara Cara Orange, Moro Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon

 

Miner’s Lettuce, also known as Winter Purslane is one of my favorite seasonal greens and I’ve written about it before (here), but there are also dandelions and sorrel and chickweed, which are all tasty and nutritious and in need of control. As for citrus, the easiest to grow, for most people, are lemons. The tart varieties, like Eureka and Lisbon are classic but the low-acid, thin-skinned Meyer is a personal favorite and a nice small size for the garden.

 

meyer lemon chickweed salad

Cure-All Salad; lemon, cayenne, turmeric and honey on a bed of greens

 

So, my new favorite salad couldn’t be easier. It is inspired by the classic “cure-all” beverage of lemon and honey, which is joined now by the popularity of turmeric teas. This combination is prized for soothing throats and boosting your metabolism, but I wanted to try using it as a salad.  Chickweed was the base, along with some tender arugula, then, the thinnest slices of sweet Meyer lemons, rind and all. Add a generous amount of ground turmeric and complete the salad with a dash of cayenne and a sprinkle of salt. Warm honey drizzled on the top is the final touch. Mmmm. This would make a great soup too using chicken broth or miso paste.

 

chickweed flower closeup

Chickweed closeup; look for the tiny flowers with deeply notched petals as one identifying factor.

 

One of the earliest weeds to pop-up is Chickweed. The Latin name is Stellaria media and it is common throughout Europe and the U.S. You can recognize this low, trailing annual by the tiny white flowers that have five white petals, notched so deeply that there appears to be ten. To confirm that you have the right plant look for line of fine hairs that run up just one side of the stem, then switches to the other side of the stem at the next pair of leaves. This plant is very nice as a base for a salad or cooked and added to soups. But any tender edible green will work.

 

moro blood orange

Moro Blood Orange; delicious and juicy.

 

I’m getting a nice crop of small blood oranges this year.  I have been slowly harvesting them for the last six weeks and they make everything they touch look important and serious. A squeeze of their film-noir juice adds color and depth to everything from cocktails to ice cream and sparkling water.

I love adding slices of my home-grown Moros to any dish but I’ve been particularly enjoying their beauty in simple, deconstructed salad plates that satisfy my penchant for eating a little of this and a little of that and utilizing whatever I’m finding in the garden.  The best kind of salads are just taking what’s in the garden and putting it on a plate.

 

blood orange minor's lettuce salad plate

Blood red beauty salad plate with Miner’s Lettuce, pecans and sorrel.

 

My most recent combination was sliced blood orange and a generous handful of Miner’s Lettuce  that is just starting to bloom.  Added to the plate to emphasize that beating-heart- red color, a small pile of shaved beets and snipped red-veined sorrel will add vitamins and balance to this simple but healthy salad. The finishing touch is a handful of pecans for protein and a little “snow” of white plum blossoms….because that’s what it looks like under the plum tree right now.

 

citrus radicchio salad

Citrus and Winter Greens salad from West End Tap and Kitchen.

 

My husband and I ate at one of our favorite local restaurants recently. He loves the burger at West End Tap and Kitchen and I love whatever seasonal dish the chef has created. I ordered the Winter Greens and Citrus Salad and it hit the spot for celebrating the transition to spring. Sophisticated salads like this one are extra enjoyable when there is a kitchen staff involved.

The beautiful salad consisted of thick patty-like slices of orange lined up on a bed of chopped lettuce and radicchio. Chunks of pancetta frolicked with candied pecans throughout the whole thing and the plate was finished with a double schmear of pesto and a generous pile of shaved pecorino on top.

 

oranges with mexican chocolate

Easy snack; sliced oranges and grated sweet Mexican chocolate

 

For pure simplicity and nostalgia, I love the way my mom served slices of orange as I was growing up…usually with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. For another take on this nice combo I like to grate Mexican chocolate over citrus slices. The cinnamon in the sweet, slightly granular, chocolate can be enhanced with an additional dash…that’s the way my mom would like it.

 

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Categories: Things to Eat

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