Easter weekend is upon us and this year I’m choosing to celebrate by 1. Thanking our resurrected savior that I don’t have to attend yet another recipe-recycled brunch buffet at the club, eyes scalded by the omnipresence of Lilly Pulitzers overstated prints, and 2. By bringing an unassuming salad to a friends’ pot luck (to which I’ll be wearing a Mara Hoffman frock that immediately contradicts my disdain for Lilly’s designs in color saturation though not form).
I dreamt the dish up for a job interview ages ago and was subsequently offered the job. It’s secured me a couple of jobs, in fact. I don’t know anyone else who’s been hired for a salad, but for someone who is determined to resurrect salads from the doldrums of caesar and spring greens, I hold that fact in high regard.
This salad is the freshest, brightest version of winters vegetables I’ve ever known, and satisfying as all getup when accompanied by seared and sliced duck breast. Plunk it on your table as a refreshing departure from the crouton-box salads we’ve played out, or, if you’re as over ham as I am, make it as a bed for a platter of duck breast.
Fennel & Citrus Salad
For the Salad:
- 2tablespoons unsalted pistachios, chopped.
- 1bunch mint
- 1blood orange
- 1navel orange
- 1cara cara orange
- 1ruby red grapefruit
- 2watermelon radish
- 1sweet onion (maui are the best if you can find them)
- 2heads of fennel, with all or some fronds left
- 3cracks of pepper
For the Dressing:
- 1pinch salt
- 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - a grassy one would be great here
- 1/4cup citrus juice, squeezed from the supreme'd citrus piths
- 3tablespoons plain yogurt
- Using a madolin if you have one or your sharpest knife if you don't, slice the fennel and radishes as thinly as possible and cover them with ice cold water to keep them crisp and bright.
- Do the same with the onion, no need to place it in the agua though.
- Supreme your citrus by cutting off either end and slicing the peel and pith away from the flesh. Once the citrus meat is entirely exposed, slice the flesh away from the segment skins (it's easiest to do this holding the citrus in your left hand like a baseball and using a paring knife to slice into the flesh). Have a small bowl ready to catch the segments.
- Once you've sliced the flesh from the skins, squeeze any remaining juice from the skins over the segments -- you'll use that juice later for the dressing.
- Pour 1/4c of the juice into a seperate bowl, whisking in the yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Drain and lightly dry the fennel and radishes, tossing them with the onion.
- Transfer the fennel, onion and radish onto a serving plate in a large pile.
- Top the salad with an assortment of citrus segments, a few fronds from the fennel stalks, a few sprigs of mint and chopped pistachios.
- Pour the dressing into a bowl for people to dress as they please.
- Serve as a dinner side, or as a bed for a whole mess of pan seared of roasted duck.