Craving something light and Springy? These days I’m all about crunch, and tangy citrus flavors that seem to taste of the sunshine. The winter doldrums are lifting, and all the energy is flowing again. It’s amazing how you learn to live in darkness and cold, only to have a joyous reunion with warmth every year. You almost forget how great it feels.
Nothing shouts Spring like radishes. They are the first roots to ripen in the garden, crisp with Spring snow melt and sunshine. For a fun salad, you can’t beat them. For this salad, I wanted a companion to a Mexican meal, full of earthy beans and sweet and tangy tomato sauces. This one serves as a perfect palate cleanser, waking up your mouth in between bites of burritos or tacos. Jicama pairs with the radishes, adding a moist and mild counterpoint and amping up the crunch even more.
There are still a few Cara Cara oranges available, and I love their sweet, pink-orange flesh in this salad. If you can’t find them, you can always use navel oranges. Just get something sweet. A red grapefruit would be a slightly tarter substitution, but would add a nice bitterness, too.
The one trick I use in the prep is a good one to adopt. I like to cut the citrus into supremes, slicing the fruit free of the membranes, then when the fruit is all freed, squeeze the leftover membrane over a measuring cup to extract the remaining juice. There are always at least a couple of tablespoons of juice hiding there in the skeleton of the fruit, and it’s a frugal move to utilize them in the dressing.
All you need then is a jolt of lime and a sprinkle of red Fresno chile and cilantro. Just enough olive oil to smooth it all out and give the salad a teensy bit of weight, and you have a perfect companion to your Mexican meal.
If you don’t want to make a whole entree to go with, you can always build it out with a handful of drained and rinsed black beans, or even some seared seitan, sprinkled with cumin and chili powder. For the cheese lovers, a crumble of queso fresco could make a light meal of it.
You have important outdoor activities to attend to, so a one plate meal may be just the thing.
Reawaken your mouth and jump start your Spring with a sprightly salad, you’ll be glad you did.
Mexican Jicama and Orange Salad with Watermelon Radishes
Serves 4 as a side
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, torn
8 ounces jicama, julienned
1 medium watermelon radish, julienned
2 large Cara Cara oranges, supremed, then squeeze the membranes for juice
1 large red chile, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Do the slicing, and when you supreme the oranges, squeeze the leftover membrane into a cup for the dressing.
On four small salad plates, sprinkle a few leaves of cilantro and compose the jicama strips, watermelon strips and orange sections. Sprinkle with red chile.
to the saved orange juice, add the lime juice, olive oil and salt and whisk to combine. Drizzle over the salads and serve.