How to Make the Perfect Winter Citrus Salad

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How to Make the Perfect Winter Citrus Salad

Bright, light, refreshing, and cleansing: all things that a well-constructed winter citrus salad combines together. Made from greens, fresh citrus fruits, and a zippy vinaigrette, these salads are an ideal counterpart to the heavy, rich, and warm dishes we so commonly feat on this time of year. With just a few simple tips, you can master these delicate salads without any recipes. Read on to learn how to make the perfect winter citrus salad.

Start with greens.

While most greens recipes for the winter season will call for hearty winter greens like kale, chard, or collards, this type of salad can—and typically does—do well with lighter leafy greens as well like baby arugula, butter lettuce, or baby spinach. The young baby greens offer a delicate touch with an air of sweetness and pepperiness that complements winter citrus fruits quite nicely. However, if you’d like to stick with hearty winter greens (which is perfectly acceptable!), shred or slice the greens very finely first, then,before using in the salad, massage them in your hands with a bit of lemon juice or salt until they soften.

Add winter citrus fruits.

When it comes to seasonal citrus, you’ve got several picks in the wintertime, and all choices are bright, tangy, and delightfully tasty. Cooking Light calls out to Satsuma oranges, clementines, kumquats or blood oranges, to name just a few. Use one type, or use several types for a pastel mélange of colors. To prep the citruses for your salads, you’ll want to first cut them into segments (check out this video from Fine Cooking if you need a tutorial). Then, depending on the look you’re going for with your salad, you can either leave the citrus segments whole, or cut them in half for presentation.

Add other seasonal winter vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

Since your base layers of greens and citruses are built, you can now have fun playing around with your add-ins. Below are some ingredients you can add to your salad that will complement the slightly sweet, tangy flavors and delicate textures:

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Sliced fennel
  • Endive
  • Shredded or finely sliced radishes
  • Torn escarole
  • Dried fruits like cranberries, currants, or cherries
  • Olives
  • Nuts and seeds like pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, filberts, hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds

Make the vinaigrette.

Finally, your salad needs a dressing, and to highlight those delicate textures and sweet-tangy flavors, your best bet is a light and tangy vinaigrette. You can keep it as simple as just olive oil and lemon juice, but you can also use a number of other ingredients to whisk in: citrus juices, honey, a splash of lemon juice, champagne vinegar, or apple cider vinegar for tang, a dab of mustard, minced shallots. You can also add dried herbs like tarragon, rosemary, or thyme, but you’ll get a less woody and more bright flavor if you use them fresh. Other fresh herbs to add can be parsley or mint, which complement the citrus fruits and tangy flavors.

Toss is all together, or make a pretty arrangement.

To serve your salad, you can absolutely just toss everything together gently in a salad bowl and dig in. for a perfectly lovely presentation, however, try arranging the ingredients on a large serving plate, doing rows or circles of greens and other vegetables alternating with fruits. Then, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, and sprinkle with any dried fruits or other small ingredients, and finish off with a smattering of fresh herbs.

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Image adapted from Flickr, Istelleinad, CC BY-SA 2.0

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