The thing about early spring, at least here in the Hudson Valley, is that it basically looks and feels exactly like winter. For most of March and even into April, it’s cold and damp, and nothing in the garden will grow. During these dog days, a bright and zingy citrus salad feels like a life-saver. And it’s simplicity itself: juicy, sweet blood oranges (and a few mandarins for variety’s sake), tossed with crisp endive and some quick-pickled red onions. Toss over a little peppery mint and pistachios for crunch and that’s it. A drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt is all the dressing it needs.
You don’t hear much about the danger of scurvy these days but after the year we just had, I’m legit concerned. Between the harsh winter weather and pandemic quarantining, I feel like some kind of timid woodland creature, blinking in the unfamiliar sunlight before darting back into the safety of my lair. Give me all the vitamins, please.
Making the salad
This citrus salad is like a restorative tincture, but delicious. We used blood oranges and satsuma mandarins, but any combination of oranges, mandarins or tangerines will work just as well. Use a sharp knife to to cut the top and bottoms off the oranges, and then follow the shape of the fruit to cut off the peel, including the bitter white pith. Slice them into rounds and there’s most of the work done.
To balance the sweet fruit, we lightly pickle some red onions in a simple brine of red wine vinegar, salt and sugar. We often have a jar of pickled red onions ready in the refrigerator, which makes this salad even faster. It only takes 15 minutes or so to soften the onions, so if we’re making them fresh, we’ll get them in the brine first so they’ll be ready by the time the oranges are sliced.
Next, roughly chop the endive (or whatever leaves you prefer) and scatter them on a platter along with the sliced citrus rounds. I can never resist red-tipped endive when I find them but regular green endive works just as well. Radicchio would also be delicious, though its bitterness puts some people off ( we love it). Kale would also be a good option, though we recommend massaging the leaves with a little olive oil, to soften them.
Scatter the pickled red onions over the top, along with the mint and pistachios, and then drizzle over the olive oil. Use a good extra-virgin olive oil here, since its flavor will be prominent. Our favorite olive oils for salads are Frankies 457 Spuntino Extra Virgin Olive Oil , California Reserve Miller’s Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lucini Organic Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
A light sprinkle of Maldon salt (or any flaky sea salt) and a good crack of pepper is the final touch.
Blood Orange and Endive Salad with Pickled Red Onions
- 1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt
- 4 blood oranges or an equivalent mix of various oranges
- 2 heads endive red or green, leaves separated and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
- 3 tablespoons pistachios or other nuts
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon or other flaky sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, toss the red onion with the vinegar, sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Season with a pinch of salt. Let sit at room temperature until softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges, then cut off the peel, removing all of the white pith. Thinly slice the oranges crosswise, removing any pits. Arrange the oranges and endive on a platter and scatter over the red onions, mint and pistachios on top. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.