Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Winter Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

And just like that, it is February. Winter is slipping by and when I’m not in the store I’m enjoying every snowy moment I can outside. I do think it may be my favorite season in the Methow Valley. But then I’ve said the same about spring, summer and fall.

With the snow and skiing comes some richly satisfying meals of long simmered stews and roasts. At the same time, I do start craving fresh, lighter flavors around about now, which fortunately coincides nicely with the abundance of citrus that pops up in the markets.

We are kicking off a new year in our Tasting Jerusalem group and cooking with cumin (Beth shares some terrific background on the history of cumin here). I tend to use cumin with meat, but with all the Cara Cara and blood oranges, limes and Meyer lemons piling up on my kitchen counter I couldn’t help but wonder how cumin pairs with citrus. I was optimistic as cumin is so versatile.

Not much to it here: I started mixing up a simple vinaigrette and, rather than my usual lemon, I squeezed a lime. I added a generous scoop of cumin along with olive oil and salt and gave the jar a good shake.

I then set about combining all the flavors and textures I am craving: crunchy romaine, soft avocado, sharp red onion, sweet oranges and puckery Meyer lemons. A drizzle of the cumin vinaigrette and voila! We started eating our wintery salad.

My optimism paid off. Cumin’s distinctive, warm, earthy flavor really came through and balanced the bright, citrusy flavors of the salad beautifully. It was a deeply satisfying salad that seemed to bridge the gap between the snowy winter outside and the piles of citrus inside. What a special time of year.

Winter Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

These are the ingredients I used to create a salad with some punchy flavors and textures – feel free to use any citrus or other produce that is in season. I think some pomegranate arils would be delicious, too.

Romaine or other crunchy lettuce, roughly chopped
Baby greens such as spinach or kale
Red onion, finely chopped
Avocado, diced
Meyer lemon, finely chopped (including peel)
Cara Cara oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
Blood oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
Cumin Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Assemble your greens and remaining ingredients on a platter or individual plates. Drizzle with cumin vinaigrette and serve.

Cumin Vinaigrette
Makes ½ cup

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (roughly 2 large limes)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a cover and shake until well mixed. The dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for a week.

This recipe has been shared on the 28 Days of Salad Project which you can check out here.