The dressing for this salad was another Chez Panisse lesson on one of my first days. Whole Meyer lemons, zest and pith, get diced up and mixed with shallots, their juices and olive oil to make the most heavenly winter salad dressing. I had never used lemons in this way before and it was, again, one of those lightbulb moments that just changed how I saw every ingredient. This dressing is great on a raw fish crudo or winter chicory salad as well. Look for different kinds of citrus at the farmers’ market and use everything from kumquats to grapefruits to oranges. Although we use Meyer lemons in the dressing, stay away from lemons and limes for slicing into the salad as they can be too tart.
1 red-fleshed navel orange (cara cara)
1 blood orange
1 navel orange
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced on a mandoline
30 g (1 oz) diced shallot
1 whole Meyer lemon, cut into tiny dice, seeds removed and
juice from the lemon core squeezed over the lemon dice 1 teaspoon salt
40 ml (1 1/4 fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the very tops and bottoms from the citrus and lay them flat on your chopping board. Cut from top to bottom, following the natural curve of the citrus, to remove all the white pith, but do it slowly and carefully so you end up with nice round clean citrus. Do this for everything except the kumquats, which you eat whole, skin and all. Slice all the citrus about 8 mm (1⁄4 in) thick, but the kumquat as thin as you can.
If your citrus is particularly large, it’s best to cut that into segments. There shouldn’t be too many seeds in anything in the winter,
but if there are, or it’s late in the season, just gently pick them out. Try to slice the citrus close to serving time.
To make your dressing, mix the shallot and Meyer lemon bits and juice with the salt, then set aside to macerate for 15 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and set aside. This should be made the day you want to serve it.
To assemble, first cover the bottom of the plate with the citrus, fanning the rest out on top so you see all the colours. Sprinkle the top with the sliced fennel and a good pinch of salt, then drizzle the dressing over the top of everything. Serve immediately.
Recipes excerpted with permission from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez, published by Hardie Grant Books, November 2020. Photography: Benito Martin
Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that expand your world view, inspire you to try something new and show how food brings us together. We rely on you to do this. And, when you donate, you'll become a member of The Splendid Table Co-op. It's a community of like-minded individuals who love good food, good conversation and kitchen companionship. Splendid Table Co-op members will get exclusive content each month and have special opportunities for connecting with The Splendid Table team.
Donate today for as little as $5.00 a month. Your gift only takes a few minutes and has a lasting impact on The Splendid Table and you'll be welcomed into The Splendid Table Co-op.