Oftentimes I find that the best dishes aren’t the ones that are carefully planned out. Rather, the perfect dishes are haphazardly thrown together at the last minute. This is one of those dishes.
A few nights ago, Nich and I decided we were going to stay in, make a fabulous dinner, and watch a movie. We knew that we wanted to make risotto for dinner (more on that in my next post), but I wasn’t sure what to make alongside it. Risotto is so rich and delicious, so I wanted to pair it with something fresh and vibrant.
So, as we meandered about Pastaworks gathering supplies for our dinner, I decided to let the produce do the talking. I was thrilled to see that they had a good selection blood oranges onhand. I happen to looooooove blood oranges. So much so, that I might go out on a limb and say that they are the sexiest of all fruits (and they are in season!). In addition to the blood oranges, I picked up a head of escarole (a bitter green in the endive/frisee family) and knew that I had the beginnings of a killer salad.
With such fabulous base ingredients, I didn’t need to add much to make this salad sing. I decided to toss the escarole and blood orange segments with toasted hazelnuts and fresh grated parmesean, along with a blood orange vinaigrette. It was perfect (if I do say so myself). Each ingredient stood out on its own, while complimenting the salad as a whole. And, if you’ll excuse me while I pat myself on the back a bit more – I was also really pleased with the blood orange vinaigrette that I “invented”. Since I got all fancy and segmented the blood oranges, I was left with the peel and ‘innards’. I was struck by the gorgeous blood red color, and decided to do something about it. I soaked the orange peel and innards in olive oil for awhile, then macerated the orange bits and strained out the oil. What I was left with was essentially a blood orange infused olive oil – and it was every bit as tasty as it was pretty! I then made a relatively standard vinaigrette (with garlic, vinegar, s&p…) using the infused olive oil. It was magical.
I will now sign off and simply urge you to make this simple and seasonal salad. Come on now, try the magic out for yourself. ;)
BLOOD ORANGE, ESCAROLE & HAZELNUT SALAD
1 head of escarole, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces. (Frisee or any other bitter salad greens would work just as well)
2 small blood oranges, peeled & segmented (*if you want to be fancy like me and make proper “suprêmes”, The Kitchn has a handy little tutorial.)
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Blood orange vinaigrette:
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Rinds & trimmings from the segmented blood oranges
1 small shallot, finely minced
1-2 tsps pomegranate or red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Soak the blood orange rind and peel in 1/2 cup (or more) of good quality olive oil. Let stand for 30+ minutes. After the mixture has had time to sit, macerate the orange (with the end of a wooden spoon, a mojito muddler, a potato masher – whatever you can find to beat up the orange bits and get them to release flavor!). Strain out the oil, using cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve.
Combine oil with minced shallot, vinegar, and salt and pepper (to taste). (Hint: The longer you let the vinaigrette sit before you use it, the better it will taste!)
Toss escarole, hazelnuts, and blood orange segments together with the vinaigrette. Grate fresh parmesan over the salad and gently toss. Serve immediately (and of course, enjoy!).