Thursday, January 21, 2016

Citrus, Pomegranate and Mint Salad

While it is still technically winter, Southern California is abundant with great fruit and vegetables right now. Citrus is in its prime and there are countless varieties available at local farmers’ markets. Everything from Murcat mandarins, to Meyer lemons, to Kaffir limes, to kumquats, to tangerines, to pomelos are in season. I am particularly in love with the soft pink-colored-not-too-sweet Cara Cara oranges, and the deep red floral and slightly bitter blood oranges.

This Sunday night marks the beginning of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees. While there aren’t too many customs and rules associated with the holiday, many Jews celebrate with a Tu B’Shevat seder and by planting trees. Some folks celebrate by eating as many as 15 different varieties of fruits and vegetables for the holiday.

This salad is meant to celebrate the fruit that is in season now, and here during Tu B’Shevat. The recipe calls for both Cara Cara and blood oranges, but you can pick any of your favorite varieties of citrus (you could even add more than 3 varieties of citrus). The idea is to pile up the citrus fruit on top of your favorite lettuce or greens, cover it with a layer of sweet and tart pomegranate seeds, good quality feta cheese, lots of bright fresh mint, and a drizzle of tangy pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. Pomegranate molasses is simply reduced/concentrated pomegranate juice. If you don’t have pomegranate molasses you can dress this salad with a simple combination of lemon juice and olive oil.


Tu B’Shevat Citrus, Pomegranate, and Mint Salad
Serves 4-6 (recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed)

for the salad-
1 small head of lettuce, your favorite variety (Speckled, Romaine,Little Gem)
2 small Cara Cara oranges (or any available orange)
1 small blood orange (or any available orange)
2 tangerines
½ cup feta cheese, cubed small or crumbled
⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

for the dressing-
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Start by removing the peel and outer membrane from all of the citrus. Slice off the very top and bottom of the fruit. Next, cut the peel and outer membrane away from the flesh by standing the fruit on its bottom and carefully run the knife alongside the fruit, cutting away the peel one section at a time. Once you have cut away the peel, slice the citrus into half inch rounds. Alternatively, you can also fully supreme the fruit.

Lay the lettuce leaves down into your serving platter or bowl. If using large leaves of lettuce, slice the lettuce into smaller pieces. Lay the fruit on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint. Season with a pinch of salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, honey and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust according to your liking. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

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