One of the great things about the Davis Farmers Market is that it's a year round market. I'm always surprised when people don't have access to a farmers market during the winter months (or at all). We're fortunate in the Sacramento Valley to have several year-round farmers markets. I feel somewhat spoiled to have access to fresh, locally-grown, seasonal produce, 52 weeks out of the year.
Winter produce obviously looks a little different than what's available in other months. Gone are the stone fruits, watermelons and bright cheery sunflowers. But some of my favorite produce is what's seasonably available in the winter -- winter squashes, daikon, kohlrabi, and especially the citrus.
Oranges, lemons and limes yes, but also satsumas, pomelos, grapefruits, meyer lemons, blood oranges, and buddha's hands.
I crave the bright taste of citrus in the winter, partially to combat the dreary winter days. And I think our bodies just know we need that punch of Vitamin C during the cold season. Satsumas are my favorite winter snack -- portable, easy to peel and packed with tart flavor. I also love incorporating citrus into salads.
With new years resolutions to eat healthier, salads are often popular in January. One of my favorite winter salads is a combination of the bitter endive, the tart citrus and the aromatic fennel.
Now I don't like black licorice and I often hear people describe fennel tasting like black licorice. But I'm here to tell you to give it a try. It has a distinct flavor but is not overpowering. Shaved, using a mandolin, it's delicate and fits perfectly in this salad.
I'm a big fan of a simple homemade vinaigrette, usually a variation on olive oil, vinegar (champagne, red wine, sherry or even just lemon juice) and Dijon mustard, honey and/or shallots. With a healthy pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. The sweet honey of this vinaigrette pairs well with the bitterness of the endive and tartness of the citrus.
This salad makes a great first course to a hearty pork chop. Or could be a standalone meal with the addition of roasted nuts and some goat cheese.
For the Salad:
- 2 blood oranges or other citrus, or a mix
- 3 endive
- 1 bulb fennel, shaved
- optional, toasted walnuts or pecans to give a little extra crunch, and goat cheese for some protein
- juice of 1/2 lime
For the Dressing:
- 1 small shallot, diced
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon good quality honey, such as Sola Bee or Pure Honey
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil, such as Yolo Press
Peel and slice the citrus using a paring knife. I prefer my citrus sliced but you can also cut into segments.
Chop the endive, and discard the ends.
Cut off the fronds of the fennel bulb. Shave the white bulb with a mandolin, or slice with a knife as thinly as you can.
Toss the endive and fennel with juice of 1/2 lime.
Combine the diced shallot, sea salt, honey, vinegar and olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Another option is to combine all ingredients in a small container and shake well, until emulsified.
Toss the salad with the dressing to coat. Them add the citrus, and nuts and/or cheese if using.