notes from maggie's farm
So many of us are focused on turning over a new leaf during this first month of the year, so what better way than to incorporate a few new leaves.
Lettuce leaves, that is.
While the good ole iceberg standby (with one shred of carrot, one shred of red cabbage, one slice of woody radish, and a heapin' helpin' of ranch, blue cheese, thousand island, or french dressing) has it's place firmly entrenched in the lexicon of culinary comfort, the healthiest options, those that give the greatest nutritional bang for your buck so to speak, are the greenest. The darker the green, the greater the nutrient profile.
This salad starts with a base of dark green, seasonal lettuces; baby spinach, and one of my favorites, arugula. My homegrown arugula can be a bit strong, and overpowering for some of the more delicate ingredients (though a bowlful with a light vinaigrette, topped with crumbles of goat cheese, and a few toasted nuts is about my favorite quick way to gobble down some greens), so blending with the milder baby spinach evens the punch, without compromising nutrients.
Our salad is dressed with seasonal sunny citrus, in a natural partnership with some bright Asian flavors, perfect for ushering in our celebration of the Chinese New Year, which begins on January 23rd. I think you'll enjoy the marriage.
|Baby Spinach and Arugula Salad with Citrus and Sweet Peppers|
Dressed with Sesame Citrus Vinaigrette
Ingredientsequal handfuls of spinach and arugula, harder stems removed, rinsed in cold water several times, and dried with clean toweling.
a few thin slices of red onion
red, yellow, or orange (or combo of any or all three) sweet bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thinly
toasted, chopped walnuts (either in a dry pan on the stove top, or in a 350 degree oven)
Two large oranges, zested, segmented, and juiced
one teaspoon Dijon, or Chinese mustard
one tablespoon honey
one teaspoon grated fresh ginger
one chopped shallot
one clove of garlic, crushed
1/8th cup neutral oil (I used sunflower)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
salt, and a smidgen of cayenne pepper, to taste
As always, these are guidelines--certainly adjust to suit your taste. Love ginger? Add lots more. Working closely with others? Maybe watch the garlic. Have a bit of a sweet tooth? Ramp up the juice, the zest, and/or the honey. Like things a bit spicier? The mustard, ginger, garlic, and cayenne can all be adjusted for a little extra 'pep in your step'. You might even take a walk on the wild side and experiment with grapefruit instead of , or combined with orange. This is YOUR salad.
After zesting both oranges (with either a zester, or the finest side of a grater), pare peeling from orange, going deep enough to remove the white pith of the orange. Slice off the odd end, if using a naval orange. Over a bowl, to catch the juice, (and you can count on this being a juicy mess) and with a sharp paring knife, slice down on the side of each membrane, making a V cut to free each segment. Continue around the circumference of the orange until you have 'supremed' each segment, then squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane left. You've just supremed your fruit.
Assemble the salad
Toss segmented oranges with spinach, arugula, red onion, and sweet pepper. Set aside to dress.
To the bowl of orange zest and juice, add mustard, honey, ginger, shallot, and garlic and combine well. Slowly drizzle in neutral oil, whisking all the while in order to emulsify the dressing. Your dressing will be well combined, instead of simply a container of oil and liquid, separated. After all of your neutral oil is assimilated, slowly add toasted sesame oil. Taste, and correct seasonings.
Add assembled salad and toss to coat. Plate, top with toasted walnuts, and serve.