Citrus Season is Here, Perfect for Winter Salads

When I was a girl, my Grandmother would send us oranges at Christmas. Dorothy was big on fruit. Then she’d tell us of the days when oranges were rare treat in the Northern states, and how excited all the children would be when they’d get an orange in their stocking. We’d listen, eyes wide, eat an orange, then go back to eating chocolates and cookies.

Now that I’m a little more mature, I’m more excited about the array of citrus that graces our grocery stores in the winter months. All that fresh, Vitamin C-rich fruit comes just in time for the holidays. Just when we crave some sunshine and sweetness, and need to nourish ourselves.

My Cava dressing is just in time to help you make your salad course wine-friendly. It works perfectly. You’ll boil down part of the bottle to use in the dressing, and that creates a flavor bridge, so that the salad and wine complement each other, rather than fight it out in your mouth. Of course, you can use non-alcoholic sparkling wine, too, as long as it’s dry.

I sip Cava from my Grandmother Dorothy’s lead crystal goblet

Winter Salads are Special

I like to think that my Grandmother would have enjoyed this salad, which puts oranges on full display. It’s festive and pretty enough to serve at a holiday feast, or just to brighten a weeknight as winter drags on. You can use whatever oranges look best at the market, where you live. I didn’t find any Cara Cara or Blood oranges the day I made this, probably because of the pandemic. If you do have the option to use some exotic oranges, this is the place to do it, but it’s absolutely delicious with any orange. My heroic Coop workers and grocery front liners have been laboring tirelessly, in the face of so many challenges. I’m grateful to have the bounty that we do have. I can just imagine what my Grandmother Dorothy, who lived through the Great Depression, would think, seeing the spread of citrus at my Coop.

In winter we can make our salads a little heavier, and lean on citrus, rather than all the lighter veggies of summer. I used arugula, for a little more weight than the typical lettuce. A few pistachios give it some weight and crunch.

Holiday Baking With Citrus by Robin Asbell
Big Bowl of Citrus

Using Wine in a Vinaigrette

You probably cook with wine, and add red wine to spaghetti sauce, or white wine to risotto. But you don’t often see anyone putting it in salads. What makes it work is the reduction step. By boiling the wine, you get rid of the alcohol which would give it a rough flavor, and you concentrate the underlying fruit and acid. You want to use a dry cava or prosecco so that the reduction will provide the acidity in the dressing, with a little fresh lemon to boost it.

This is a good time to start thinking about fun salads to eat this winter. Like this: Perfect Pear Salad.

I’ll raise a glass to Grandma Dorothy, and thank her for reminding us to appreciate oranges. In Gratitude.

Winter Salad with Oranges and Cava Dressing

Course Salad
Keyword citrus,, wine paring
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/2 cup dry cava or prosecco
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • 4 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1/4 cup toasted, shelled pistachios chopped


  • 1. Reduce prosecco by boiling until 1/4 cup remains. Let cool. In a food processor, mince garlic, then add lemon, Dijon, and salt and process. Gradually, with the machine running, pour in the olive oil. when emulsified, add basil and process to mix.
    2. Arrange arugala on a platter or individual plates. Use a mandoline to finely slice fennel. Spread over the arugala, top with oranges, and drizzle with dressing. Top with pistachios and serve.