California grows more citrus than any other state. The variety of colors and flavors in this one genus is astounding and inspirational if you are looking for a beautiful winter salad. The reds of blood oranges meet the true orange of oranges and mandarins. Then you have the pink of grapefruit and the pale yellow of the pomelo. Who wouldn’t want to mix them all up?
Evan Kleiman highlights a citrus salad below, and if you’re only buying fruit from the supermarket, she beseeches you to go to a farmers market at least once this season. The difference in fruit will blow your mind. This is true all year long, even in the Southern California “winter” when all manner of citrus varieties are available.
Kleiman chose this recipe to highlight because it marries citrus with the winter chicories radicchio and Belgian Endive. If you’re at the farmers market, look for the blousy pinky yellow of the Rosa d’Alba variety of radicchio or the red and white speckled Castelfranco.
Citrus also marries perfectly with what Kleiman likes to call tea cakes, which aren’t too sweet and may have a simple icing or none at all. One of her favorites is a dense moist cake that relies on boiled whole oranges and lemons for flavor and moistness, and ground almonds for structure. This cake is from Elizabeth Minchilli and Kleiman’s friend Eugenia (it’s gluten free).
Yotam Ottolenghi’s three citrus salad
This recipe from the cookbook “Nopi” took food internet by storm. For Southern Californians, the base of it is a lovely winter celebration of citrus and winter chicories. But it’s Ottolenghi’s Almond Salsa that pushes it over the top. The notes in italic parentheses are Evan’s
- 2 oranges
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 1 large pomelo
- 1 small head radicchio (look for the gorgeous pink Rosa’d’Alba variety or the white with red speckles)
- 1 Belgian endive, base trimmed, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges (3 oz/90 g)
- 1 3/4 oz (50 g) tender/baby leaf watercress
- 3 oz/80 g almonds, skin on
- 5 green chiles, seeded and thinly sliced (adjust to your taste in variety of chile and quantity)
- 3 oz/90 g stem ginger, finely diced (this is candied ginger in syrup, but Trader Joe’s candied ginger works too)
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted for 1 minute and lightly crushed
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted for 1 minute and lightly crushed
- 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 3 1/2 tbsp Valdespino sherry vinegar (or another good-quality sherry vinegar)
- 1/3 cup/80 mL olive oil
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
-Preheat the oven to 350F.
-For the salsa, spread the almonds out on a small baking tray and place in the oven for 20 minutes, until well toasted. Remove from the oven, and once cool enough to handle, roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl, along with all the remaining salsa ingredients, ¼ tsp sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
-Take the oranges and use a small, sharp knife to slice off the top and tail. Now cut down the side of each orange, following its natural line, to remove the skin and white pith. Cut widthways into 5 mm rounds and then slice each round into quarters. Prepare the grapefruit in the same way, but slice each round into sixths. Put both into a large bowl.
-Use a sharp knife to peel away the pomelo skin. Divide the fruit into segments and use the knife to remove and discard all the pith and the membrane. Break the fruit segments into 2 cm chunks and add to the rest of the fruit, along with half the salsa and all the leaves.
-Mix gently, arrange on a large platter, spoon over the remaining salsa and serve.
Eugenia’s citrus cake
- 2 oranges and 1 lemon
- 2 1/4 cups ground almonds
- 6 whole eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 level tsp baking powder
- confectioners sugar
-Preheat oven to 350F.
-Boil citrus, whole, until completely soft (1.5 to 2 hours).
-Let cool, cut in half and remove the seeds. Blend in a food processor.
-Beat eggs well. Add blended citrus, ground almonds, sugar and baking powder. Mix well.
-Line a 9” springform pan with a circle of wax paper. Pour in batter and bake for 40 to 60 minutes. Start checking with a toothpick after about 30 minutes. The cake is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
-Cool. Dust with confectioners sugar. Tastes even better the next day. Good even after three days.
Also check out Oleo Saccherum, the magic citrus oil syrup.