For the most part, I’m more or less a locavore by habit, especially when it comes to produce. But Northeast winters are long and one can only eat so many cold storage apples. As February rolls into to March, fresh, local fruit is still a long way off. And so, each Winter I make an exception and turn my taste buds South or West, figuring it’s not the worst thing to support citrus producers in Florida and California. Not to mention a burst of vitamin C does a body good during cold season.
On a more or less daily basis Brad loves a grapefruit with breakfast, and I like a few clementines or a juicy navel orange with my lunch. But lately I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for citrus, including a citrus granola, and even a citrus brulee. When my pal Alexis was assisting on a photo shoot at Franny’s and sent me a picture reminding me of one of my favorite antipasti, a simple salad of blood oranges, olives, hot pepper and parsley, I decided it was time to shake things up at Chez T.
And so, here is a celebration of citrus season. My own simple salad with a mix of oranges and tangerines, fennel, cilantro, some good olive oil and a touch of Maras chile*. We’re lucky to have access to a most awesome selection of organic citrus at our Park Slope Food Coop – the specimens I chose this time included a Cara Cara red navel orange, a Temple orange, a Mineola tangelo, and a Honey tangerine.
*I picked up the crushed Maras Chile at a fantastic spice shop, Allspice in Des Moines, Iowa. It’s a Turkish chile that is medium-hot, a bit sweet and acidic all at once. I haven’t found anything that doesn’t benefit from a light dusting and it really perked up the citrus salad. You can order from their shop online (pssst! Lizzie, I finally found a spice source for you), so check these guys out.
Citrus and Fennel Salad
- 4 medium oranges, tangerines, or even grapefruit – mix and match whatever looks good
- 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
- 2-3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 1 cup of whole cilantro leaves plucked from the stems
- Sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper
- Maras chile (or a pinch of cayenne) for garnishing
Thinly slice the fennel bulb (if you have a mandoline, use it) and place them in a bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
To cut the oranges: Trim both ends off and stand the orange upright on one of the cut sides. Then cut the the rest of the peel off by trimming down along the orange toward the cutting board, working your way around. Cut the orange in half lengthwise, then lay the 2 halves flat on the cutting board, cut side down, and slice them crosswise into 1/4″ thick half moon shaped slices. Save as much of the juice from the cutting board as possible, transferring it to the bowl with the fennel, and discard any seeds.
When the oranges are ready, give the bowl with the fennel and reserved orange juice a good toss. Then gently toss the orange pieces and the cilantro leaves with the fennel. Taste for seasoning and transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with a light drizzle of a bit more olive oil if desired, then garnish with a sprinkling of chile.