Thursday, January 29, 2009
Butterhead Lettuce and Orange salad with Pepitas and Cranberries
I was in Orlando, Florida for a brief couple of days in January, before my final semester of graduate school began. While I was there I went by the local citrus shack with my Grandmother to pick up some fresh squeezed orange juice. The place is nothing more than a little wooden building and gravel parking lot with sacks of enormous oranges and grapefruits displayed on rough wood stands next to the doorway. Out back the packing shed attaches right onto the retail store, which contains fresh citrus of all kinds, bottled key lime juice, marmalade, fresh juices and kitschy coconut and seashell themed food gifts for those deprived of the Florida sunshine. They have free juice samples and cut up fruit to try, which we always do, and they ship boxes of fruit all over the country.
My Grandmother regularly ships grapefruit and oranges to her ice-bound offspring in the far north. I thought this was a good idea and so I ordered half a bushel of oranges for myself while I was there. They arrived in DC about 3 days after my return and you could smell them through the heavy corrugated cardboard as I lugged them from the front desk of my apartment building.
I unloaded them in my kitchen-huge navels the size of mutant softballs, heavy with juice. Soon every nook and corner of my fridge was stacked high, but I still had half a box sitting open on the floor. For the last 2 and half weeks I have been eating oranges everyday, starting my morning off with a big bowl of the cut up fruit. Faced with a surfeit of quality citrus, I did the only thing I could do-began inventing recipes.
I know it is the depth of winter for those of us in the cold north, and salads are probably the last thing on your mind. But this salad is a flu-preventative all by itself. Packed with flavour and colour, vitamin C, fiber and healthy fats from the pumpkin seeds and olive oil, this salad will cure what ails you and is a great way to use the nice oranges that can be found in most markets this time of year.
Butterhead Lettuce and Orange Salad with Pepitas and Dried Cranberries
Serves two generously, 4 as a side salad.
Roughly 4 ounces of butterhead lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces (about 1 medium or half a large head of lettuce)
8 ounces of orange, either supremed or merely peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces.
2 ounces of red onion, thinly sliced. (about half a medium-small onion)
3 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds-you can use your own or buy them shelled if you prefer)
1 tsp olive oil
Juice of half a large lemon
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
About 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (to taste)
Optional: 2 ounces of feta (I use fat free. This makes for a more substantial, meal-like salad)
1. Tear up your lettuce and place it in a large bowl. Cut up and add the oranges and any juice that comes with them. Thinly slice and add the onion. Generously salt and pepper your salad.
2. Toast your pepitas in a frying pan or cast iron pot over medium heat until them begin to smell good and make popping noises. Add them and the dried cranberries to the salad.
3. Squeeze over the lemon juice, add the olive oil and smoked paprika and the feta cheese if you are using it. Toss the salad well and serve. The orange tends to migrate towards the bottom of the bowl, so make sure to dig deep so everyone gets the citrusy goodness.