A burst of color and a vibrant meal do wonders to lighten the soul on a January day. We've been nesting indoors as the grey and drizzly days are reaching their peaks here in Oregon. The other day, we were chatting by phone with a colleague in Florida when a certain context led her to mention "well you realize that it's about 100 degrees here every day, don't you?!”
Drifting off into a momentary dream bubble of blue skies and warm air, we realized that everyone could benefit from a little bit of the Sunshine State-of-Mind. Coupled with the fact that citrus season is at its peak, the thought of orange and lemon trees heavy with fruit makes us wistful. It’s funny that no matter how much technology brings us together, we remain many climates apart. And unfortunately, you still can't pass an orange to a friend through your phone.
So off to the grocery store to celebrate citrus on this chilly Oregon day. Duly inspired, we have created this salad of Cara Cara and blood oranges, along with fennel and watercress to wake up your palate and brighten up your table. Blood oranges are known for their alluring jewel tones and their sweet but tart flavor. Cara Cara's are sweeter than regular navels and have a beautiful color comparable to Ruby Red grapefruit. In fact, a combination of grapefruit and other navel oranges would be equally delicious for this salad.
Although we think this salad would be a great side dish to any main course, we decided to ride the color wave and recommend a Beet Ricotta Spaghetti recipe that we discovered at The Impatient Foodie. Elettra Wiedemann, the founder, has a great approach to navigating her desire to marry Slow Food ideals with the realities of faced-paced life. Her spaghetti recipe is a perfect example of her philosophy. It is rich in flavor and satiates the appetite. The ricotta lends a creaminess to the dish so that the skeptical diners at your table won't complain about eating beets. (Yes, we feed some nose-crinkling eaters too.) They'll be delighted about eating pink spaghetti. Beyond that, it's quick and simple to cook too. While we can't pass the platter through the computer screen, we can share the recipes.
Orange, Fennel and Watercress Salad
2 blood oranges
2 Cara Cara oranges
1/4 fennel bulb
1 small bunch watercress
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Prepare the oranges by using a sharp knife to remove the peel and pith. Begin by slicing off both ends of each orange, then set each orange on end on a cutting board. This keeps them from rolling away while you continue to cut away the peel in a vertical direction. If there is any pulp left in the peels, squeeze the juice into a small bowl and set aside. Slice each orange into 5-6 horizontal discs.
Prepare the fennel bulb by cutting away any stalks or fronds. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the entire piece of bulb into thin vertical slices.
Arrange orange slices on a platter, slightly overlapping. Top with shaved fennel. Arrange watercress, goat cheese and olives over oranges. Drizzle with reserved orange juice and olive oil. Seasons with salt and pepper.