The idea of a citrus salad isn’t new but, every year, right about now, I'm reminded how very simple yet very stunning pinwheels of oranges, mandarins, or grapefruit can easily turn a blah salad into an impressive one. This recipe is eye-catching and also a refresh of the usual ingredient list: no avocado and pickled onions here. Instead, dates and almonds, fried in brown butter, transform into an unctuous vinaigrette that smooths over the tangy citrus and soaks into hearty escarole.
This brown butter vinaigrette is served warm because it solidifies as it cools. For that reason, starting with room-temperature citrus, escarole, and dates goes a long way. To temper the citrus and dates, leave them out on your counter for about an hour before starting the rest of the recipe. The escarole only needs about 30 minutes (in a breathable bag, out of direct sunlight).
This salad calls for tart blood oranges and juicy navel oranges but, as the season rolls along, all kinds of citrus can be swapped in: cara cara, mandarins, even grapefruit. The only caveat is they should have good acidity to balance out the sugary dates.
Without the greens, this salad works as a not-too-sweet dessert as well. —Christian Reynoso
large navel or cara cara orange, at room temperature
small blood oranges, at room temperature
roughly chopped almonds
red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups
roughly torn escarole or frisee leaves
Medjool dates, seeded and torn in halves and quarters, at room temperature
Peel the oranges with a small paring knife: Slice off the ends to create two flat surfaces. Set on one flat surface, then slice off the skin and pith, following the spherical shape. Slice each fruit crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds.
Heat a small pot over medium heat, add the butter and melt until the milk solids start to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the almonds and keep cooking until the milk solids are dark amber and the overall aroma is nutty, 2 to 4 minutes. As soon as the butter has browned, turn the heat off. Carefully add the vinegar and salt (some bubbling will occur).
Arrange the salad by placing the escarole flat on a serving platter. Tuck the orange rounds and dates into the escarole like a very loose fitting mosaic. While the brown butter vinaigrette is still warm, stir with a spoon and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve immediately.