Orange and Endive Salads – Another Good Thing about Winter
Winter is orange city around here. Quantities of peel get candied. The zest adds flavor to stews, enhances the stuffing of roast fowl, perfumes custards and cheesecakes and lends its zing to pastries from pound cake to gingerbread. Result: the fridge is frequently full of naked oranges needing to be used up.
Needing to “use up” oranges might sound like a fake problem, but those of us who’d rather eat clementines and drink grapefruits often have a lot of orange meat with no particular place to go.
Meanwhile, we have a nice supply of deep red radicchio, which turned out to be the last green standing. Covering the row on December 1st was definitely worth it. They were still out there doing fine when we brought in the last chard and kale
And they were still ok, just a bit less fine, when I went out the other day and got the rest of them, no longer willing to tempt fate, snow insulation notwithstanding.
How convenient is that? Bitter endive and sweet-sour orange is one of the world’s great combinations; all you need is a little fat and salt and you’re in business.
TO PREPARE WHOLE ORANGES FOR SALADS:
The fruit is prettiest when sliced crosswise into thin disks, but this has two culinary disadvantages. It doesn’t remove the tough membranes, and it does bust so many cells a lot of the juice leaks out.
For best eating quality, make sections: Working over a bowl to catch all the juices, use a sharp, serrated knife to slice off the top and bottom of the orange. Score the peel at one inch intervals from top to bottom,then go back and cut it off, slicing just deeply enough to remove all the white pith. (Scoring makes it easier to remove all pith while losing minimum flesh.)
Cut down right next to each membrane, freeing the wedges of orange, and remove any stray seeds. If there are more than a few seeds, make all the wedges first and go back for seed removal at the end; it’s faster.
When the sections have been removed you’ll be left holding a limp rag of connected membranes. Squeeze it over the bowl to get all the juice before discarding.
Basic Orange and Endive Salad
The salads in the pictures are composed for their portraits. When composing for eating it’s much better to cut most components in bite-sized pieces, shred the endive as though for slaw and toss the whole thing at the end. Salad that you need a knife to eat is not my idea of a good time.
Basic ingredients are in bold italics. Quantity of each is “as much as you want,” but I usually have about 2 cups diced orange wedges and 1/2 cup shredded sweet onion for every 6 cups of shredded endive. Amount of vinaigrette needed depends on how much else is in the salad and how absorbent it is. You need more if there are garbanzo beans, less if there’s crumbled bacon.
Method: Cut onion into shreds. If you thought of making this a few hours ahead, generously salt the shreds, let them pickle for however long, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly. This treatment makes them less sulferous but isn’t essential.
In a large salad bowl, make a simple olive oil and mid-price balsamic vinegar dressing. Season with salt. This may be the only dish outside of dessert that I like better without garlic, but that’s me.
Stir the onions into the dressing, then stir in whatever non-orange lumps (if any) you’re using. Marinate a half hour or so if possible. Add the oranges and their juice, stir gently and taste for seasoning. Toss with the endive and serve.
Tasty Lumps to add:
Roasted, peeled red peppers
Sausage – that last little broiled merguez, for instance, currently languishing in the ‘fridge
Oil-cured black olives
Roasted, peeled Poblano peppers
Very tiny croutons