These last few weeks have been one of those marvelous Signature February Specials with all the fixings… you know the type – the delightful full-on pull-blanket-over-head-and-hibernate-while-mother-nature-goes-nuts variety. Just when I was about to give in to the general greyness creeping up on me, I remembered a foodie conversation about the hoops, hurdles and spike pits one has to overcome get a piece of Caribbean’esue Summer onto a dinner plate on this side of the globe in mid-January.
The thought of that kind of dance didn’t do much towards motivating me out of the warmth and comfyness of my stack of blankets, but it nudged another trail of thought into action. Maybe not leaving… “Here” was the way to go about fighting February in all its grey glory – it’s not like “Here” doesn’t have light and sunny ingredients to offer, even during this particular time of year… Hm! As soon as that thought had settled, all it took to get some sunshine onto our plates was a hop, skip and jump (all of those across bathtub-sized puddles, of course~) to our Farmer’s Market and a few swings of a knife! To add a bit more “Summer” to the deal, I fired up the griddle to give the local late-season blood oranges a bit more oomph – which reminds me: if you find yourself out of blood oranges or simply on the sunny side of the planet while reading this, replace the blood oranges with honey-, charentais-, galia- or even watermelon slices! Unlike blood oranges, those melons are perfectly suited for a quick sear on a BBQ as well, by the way~! Anywhoo, let’s get started – Winter-Sun Salad for two.
The Carrot Vinaigrette
30g Ginger, freshly grated and ground into a smooth paste with a few drops of sesame oil
Well-Stocked Pantry Alternative: 1 heaped Tsp Ginger Paste
1 Clove of Garlic, finely chopped
1 Unwaxed Orange, Zest only
60g Dried Cranberries, roughly chopped
500ml Carrot Juice
50ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A very generous Pinch each of Salt, freshly cracked Pepper and Hot Chilli Flakes
1-2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
This is a combination of typical winter-cravings, namely the ginger, and typical winter-ingredients – and it’s basically the only real action you have to take to get this salad on the table~!
1) Add everything minus the oil and mustard to a small pot sitting on medium-high heat.
2) Allow the lot to work up a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
3) Leave the mixture to bubble away and reduce its volume by ½ – usually this takes about 5 mins.
4) Once that’s done, stir in the oil and the mustard.
5) Have a taste and adjust the seasoning with more chili, salt, pepper or vinegar if necessary.
6) Set the pot aside to cool off.
300g Baby Spinach
100g Lamb’s Lettuce
4 Blood Oranges, peeled and sliced into disks
Alt: 500-600g Ripe Cahrentais-, Galia or Watermelon, skinned, deseeded and sliced into wedges large enough to fit into your griddle or onto your BBQ
4 Preserved or Fresh Piri-Piri Chilis, finely chopped
1 Red Onion, thinly sliced or cut into wedges and grilled along with the Blood Oranges/Melons
If you’re going with the Melon: ½ Bunch of Mint, finely chopped – Blood Oranges often pale to mint, so it’s best to skip it in that case
1 Bunch of Basil, roughly chopped or torn
100g Pecorino con Pepe, finely sliced into thin slivers
4 Tbsp Pine Nuts, lightly toasted
Opt: 2-3 Tsp Preserved Green Peppercorns, chopped
Several pinches of salt
Slight drizzle of honey
1) Fire up your griddle or BBQ.
2) Grab your fruit slices and pat them „dry“ with a paper towel, then sprinkle them with a pinch of salt on both sides.
3) Once the tool of your choice is piping hot, give the slices a quick drizzle with honey and pace the pieces in the fire – 1-2 mins per side should suffice to mark them up nicely.
4) Take them off the heat as soon as the tell-tale mars appear to avoid overcooking them aka turning them into compote.
5) Set the fruit aside for a couple of blinks and stack everything else up on plates or in bowls – cheese, nuts and peppercorns on top.
6) Once you’re ready to serve, arrange the fruit on top, drizzle everything with the dressing and…