I first tasted a version of this salad on a farm at the base of the Alpujarra mountains in Spain, while filming my documentary "Planet Food" for the Food Network. A sweet woman named Mercedes cooked all day long while her husband, Paco, tended the animals. The salad is not only glorious to eat but beautiful to look at. The glistening oranges, jeweled with dried cranberries, sit regally in a luxurious bed of dark green spinach that's laced with the spiky fragrance of basil. The nuttiness of the pepitas complete the odyssey of taste and texture. It never fails to be a hit.
We've got a new partnership with Padma Lakshmi! The host of the Emmy-winning Top Chef, writer, and designer started Padma Lakshmi, a social-networking site that celebrates our favorite topics including food adventures, recipes, and party planning. She'll be dishing up goodies for us here on YumSugar monthly. Today Padma shares a unique citrus salad from her cookbook that combines basil with in-season blood oranges.
Keep reading for the basil and blood orange salad recipe.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon yuzu or lime juice
1 teaspoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns*
coarsely ground rock salt
4 blood oranges, peeled, seeded, pith removed,and sliced into semicircles**
1 small red onion sliced into thin rings
5 ounces spinach leaves
3 cups fresh basil leaves, stems removed
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), roasted and salted
1. Mix all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Toss the oranges, onions, and cranberries in the dressing, and stir to coat well.
3. In a large salad bowl, mix together the basil and spinach. Just before serving, toss in the orange and onion mixture, and mix well (adding the onion mixture too soon will make the salad soggy). Sprinkle pepitas on top and serve immediately. SERVES 4-6
Note You can use regular peppercorns as well but Sichuan ones have a smoky flavor that gives a distinct aroma to dishes.
You can also make this recipe with navel oranges if blood oranges are not easily available.
What are your favorite ingredients to add to a spinach salad?
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