Winter. Salad. It’s hard to put those words next to each other. Winter salad brings to mind tough-skinned, mealy tomatoes, pale, watery lettuce, limp, wet cucumbers and sad little rings of scallion; bleak as the grey sky. Bitter greens are better. Spinach, arugula, frisee, escarole. Add some finely sliced shallot, pinked up in champagne vinegar? Slices of citrus: grapefruit, oranges? It’s the crescents of deep pink and orange, their sweetness, the bite of bitter arugula and the sharp pink bloom of shallots in vinegar that make this salad so welcome after weeks of dark braised greens. Fresh, crisp intensity – that’s what I want right now. So I’ve been making this salad. (almost every night!)
Winter Salad of Arugula, Orange and Shallot
- 1 large trimmed bunch or 5 good handfuls of washed arugula
- 2 navel oranges or 2 ruby grapefruits
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar
- 3-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the shallot with a sharp knife, into thin circles. Toss them in a small bowl with the vinegar. Leave for 5 minutes or so.
- With the same sharp knife, carefully cut away the peel of the oranges, leaving almost no pith. Slice the fruit of the orange out, cutting on either side of each segment. You will be left with only the tender fruit.
- Pour the vinegar from the shallots into a jar with a lid or another small bowl and add the olive oil to taste. I add more oil if I use grapefruit, less with oranges. Add the salt and pepper to taste. I would start with 1/4 tsp of salt, whisk it all up and see if you like it by dipping an arugula leaf into it and tasting.
- Toss the arugula with the orange or grapefruit sections and the shallots. Add some of the dressing, you may not need all of it. Don’t make a limp overdressed salad. That is not the point! Use a light hand. If you have leftover dressing it will keep in the fridge for when you make the salad tomorrow night!
Since I have eaten this salad so many times in the last few weeks, I am looking to shake things up. Tomorrow I will try 2 tbsp of toasted walnuts and an ounce of crumbled soft goat cheese or mild blue cheese. I know it will be very good.