Saturday, April 16, 2011

Floridian Salad in Iowa (with homemade citrus vinaigrette)

Hello. Hi there.

How are you?


Me, too.

Let's make salad. Salad with citrus and homemade vinaigrette. Because it's March and it's grey outside and citrus can help us at least pretend that it's summer and the weather's nice. 70-something degrees. Sunny. Only a bit of a breeze off the ocean. You know. The good stuff.

But first, let's introduce ourselves. I'm Brenna. I bake things. And cook things. Often they are Floridian things, which is sometimes difficult now that I'm in Iowa and have a hard time finding green plantains. But we'll talk about plantains another day. This blog is about figuring out how to make the food I love from home--South Florida--as a vegetarian in Iowa. Since Floridians love seafood, substitutions happen. We can deal with it. I promise.

Anyway. Salad.
Good citrus isn't easy to find in Iowa, especially at the tail end of winter.

But I managed to find some pretty tasty Texas grapefruit at Fareway. I admit it. Texas actually has better grapefruit than Florida. It's pink, juicy, and hovers in that delicious space between sweet and tart. The oranges are straight from Florida ala the interstate's Indian River fruit stand. While Texas may beat us in the realm of grapefruit, I maintain that there is no orange out there that can compete with a Florida orange. Sweet and juicy. What more could you want?

Fun fact: An orange with some green in its skin is still a ripe orange. Companies sometimes add a dye to their oranges to enhance the color, which is why most grocery store oranges are particularly neon.

So, salad. I like to start with a spring mix or a bunch of baby spinach.

Chop up an orange. Then chop up half a grapefruit and a mango. Rule of thumb: The redder the mango, the riper the mango. Then, how about a handful of kumquats? Let's live a little, right? Salad's can be exciting. Kumquats make things exciting. These little orange guys are extremely sour, though, so if you want, dip the cut sides in a little bit of white sugar. Go ahead. I won't judge.

These are kumquats:

They grow on trees. Know what else grows on trees? Avocados. Toss some of that on the salad, too.

Look at all that goodness! Know what would make it even better? Vinaigrette.

Here's how to make some:

Remember that grapefruit you chopped up? And that orange? Zest some of the skin into a cup or container. You can use a cheese grater for this purpose. A couple of teaspoons of each will do. Add some extra virgin olive oil, pear balsamic vinegar, and white balsamic vinegar. Grind some pepper all up in there. Mix it up (shaking works best) and pour it over the salad.

Consume. Feed some to other people if you want. It's nice to share.

Florida Salad

1 batch spring mix salad (or greens of your choosing)
1/2 pink grapefruit
1 Florida orange
1 mango
1/2 avocado
5 kumquats, halved

1. Set aside 2 teaspoons of grapefruit zest and orange zest before peeling. To zest the fruit, rub it against the smallest side of a cheese grater.

2. After peeling, cut the orange and grapefruit into chunks.

3. I'm still working out the perfect way to cut up a mango, but here's what's worked for me so far: Cut the sides of the mango as close to the core as possible. Then, slide the knife between the skin and the fruit, much like filleting a fish. Once they're separated, chop the fruit into chunks. Do the best you can to remove the flesh from the core. Or, if you're like me, you'll just eat it like corn-on-the-cob. Dessert corn-on-the-cob. Yeah.

4. Start at the top of the avocado with your knife and follow it around the fruit length-wise. You should feel the pit the whole way around. Scoop the pit out with a spoon, then scoop out the flesh and chop it up.

5. Cut the kumquats length-wise, as well. Sugar them if you feel like it.

In short: Chop and plop.

Citrus Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons grapefruit zest
2 teaspoons orange zest
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pear balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

These measurements are estimates. Play around with the ratios to taste. Mix it all up and pour it over the salad.

1 comment:

  1. Food blog! Kumquat is a funny word and a funny food. Yum!