I used to teach a class at the YMCA called the Happy Kitchen. It's a program designed by the Sustainable Food Center here in Austin, and its goal is to get people to cook more--and to choose foods that are healthy, affordable and simple to prepare. We cook in each class, and we test the recipes ahead of time. The cookbook contains a recipe for a spinach salad in which you add supremes of grapefruit and orange. When I tested it for friends, I decided to use the technique of slicing the citrus thin and roasting it (maybe you saw that in the January issue of Bon Appetit), and I added roast fennel for some herby crunch. (We liked it better than the original recipe.) The dressing is a riff on a traditional honey mustard, but I used horseradish instead of mustard for a little more bite, and smoked paprika for a bit of smoky flavor that I really love. It's reinforced with the small pieces of smoked cheese that round out the flavors and, with the pecans, give the salad some richness and texture. —drbabs
For the Salad
clementines or blood oranges, sliced 1/4 inch thick, seeds removed
Meyer lemons, sliced 1/4 inch thick, seeds removed
small bulb of fennel, quartered and sliced 1/4 inch thick; reserve fronds and chop them
salt and pepper
3 cups baby spinach
smoked cheddar, cut into small dice
For the dressing
sherry or white wine vinegar
pinch or two of kosher salt and black pepper
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
In This Recipe
Heat oven to 425. Toss citrus slices and fennel with olive oil and place on cookie sheet in one layer. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly charred and caramelized, 15-20 minutes. (Time depends on the thickness of the slices. Watch them toward the end and turn them occasionally so they don't burn. They're best when they're very crispy and slightly charred so you do want to cut them an thinly and evenly as possible.) Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Make dressing. Stir honey, horseradish, vinegar, paprika, salt and pepper together. Just before serving, whisk in olive oil a little at a time till the dressing is to your liking. (I like dressing tart, so I try to be flexible here.)
Place spinach and reserved chopped fennel fronds in serving bowl. Pour a small amount of dressing over the spinach--just enough to barely coat it. Add roasted citrus and fennel and smoked cheddar. Toss salad and add more dressing--a little at a time-- as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle salad with pecans and serve.