If you live anywhere around the mid-western united states, you’re probably familiar with what I like to call “Fake Spring”. It’s that short stretch of time when it is technically spring, or almost spring, but winter is being lazy and won’t pack up it’s things and go. Sure, there might be one or two nice days, but all they do is tease us into breaking out our t-shirts before it goes back to grey skies and below freezing temps for a couple more weeks.
Seriously, it’s been five months. I’m done with you, Winter. It’s over. Get out.
It isn’t unusual for me to go a little citrus-crazy around this time of year, when all I’m craving are bright, sunny flavors, and fresh produce. While I’m waiting for the ground to thaw, citrus season is still going strong, and for a few weeks it’s a grapefruit every morning that helps pull me through the gloom.
It isn’t unusual for me to go a little citrus-crazy… but I may have gone a bit overboard this time.
Can you really blame me, though? Set one foot inside a grocery store and you’re greeted with all shades of yellow and orange. So this is where the sunshine has been hiding! I couldn’t resist stuffing as much of it into my basket as I could carry. I even found some I’ve never tried before — an ugli fruit (lower left), and a sumo tangerine (near the upper right). Neither are particularly pretty to look at, but both are sweet and tasty.
Do you have a favorite citrus fruit? I’d love to know. (I have a hard time picking just one… can you tell?)
To satisfy my need for spring, a salad was most definitely in order. Fresh greens, wedges of juicy cara cara oranges, chunks of roasted beets, and a handful of toasted hazelnuts for crunch.
Beets and hazelnuts aren’t the first things that come to mind when I think of spring, but remember, this is “Fake Spring” we’re talking about, and it’s still cold outside. Also, they are delicious alongside those sweet orange segments. Something about the warmth and earthiness mingling with the bright, sweet, citrus… maybe there is something to this whole in-between-season, after all.
Are there any foods you turn to when you need help getting through a long stretch of dreary weather? Citrus is mine. And now, so is this salad.
Spring Citrus Salad with Roasted Beets and Hazelnuts
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 large beet
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium oranges
4 cups mixed greens
1 orange, juiced
1/2 meyer lemon, juiced (or 1/2 small regular lemon)
1 TBSP apricot jam
3-4 TBSP olive oil
For the hazelnuts:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the outer skins begin to flake off and the nuts turn a light golden brown. Stir or shake the pan every 4-5 minutes to prevent burning.
2. Remove the nuts from the oven, and transfer them, while still warm, to the center of a clean dish towel. Fold the sides of the towel around the nuts to make a pouch, and rub the pouch firmly between your hands to remove the skins. Transfer the hazelnuts to a cutting board, and give them a rough chop. Discard the skins.
For the beets:
1. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Peel the beet, and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt. Spread into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet, and let roast for 20-25 minutes, or until fork tender.
For the citrus:
1. Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges. Stand them up on one of the flat ends, and use a knife to cut the skin off on all sides, working with the curve of the fruit. Be sure to remove all of the white pith.
2. Hold the citrus in the palm of your hand, and careful cut on either side of the membranes that separate each wedge. (Alternatively, lay the citrus on it’s side on a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds.) Set the citrus segments or rounds aside.
For the dressing:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days. Stir or shake thoroughly before serving.
For the salad:
1. Add the greens to a large plate or bowl. Add the orange segments, beets, and chopped hazelnuts. Add a small amount of dressing, and toss to combine. Taste, and add more dressing as needed. Serve immediately.