Tonight I'm making Balthazar's Moules à la Marinière, an old favorite that takes no time to throw together, peasant bread, and this salad, a mix of paper-thin watermelon radishes, Cara Cara oranges — so sweet and pretty — toasted walnuts, and goat cheese, dressed with shallots macerated in vinegar, olive oil, and chives.
A few weeks ago, we received an enormous bag of watermelon radishes, which couldn't be more beautiful, in our first winter CSA delivery and have been enjoying variations of this salad ever since. If you don't have radishes on hand, turnips work, too, and so do beets (cooked first, though raw might be interesting? And messy?).
A mandoline is helpful here. This is my favorite.
To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly browner and smelling fragrant. Dump the walnuts into a tea towel. Rub off the skins. Remove walnuts from towel, leaving skins behind. If you wish to get more of the skin off, place walnuts in a strainer and shake it aggressively.
- 1 shallot or half of a small red onion
- 2 to 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt
- 2 to 3 watermelon radishes
- 2 to 3 oranges, clementines, grapefruit, etc. (I used Cara Cara oranges, which are sweet, pretty, and delicious)
- A handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped (see notes)
- Goat cheese to taste
- Chives, minced, optional, but they add some nice color
- Olive oil to taste
- Mince shallot. Place in small bowl. Cover with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinegar depending on how big of a salad you are making. Add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Cut off one end of the radish. Leave the other intact so you have a handle when you run the radish down your mandoline. Peel the radishes if you wish, though it is by no means necessary. Thinly slice on a mandoline. (Note: I ate one slice unpeeled and thought it tasted fine but went ahead and peeled them anyway because I thought the salad might look prettier if they were peeled, but I don't think it actually really matters.) Arrange radish slices on a platter. I try to fold some of them so they're not all squished down in one flat layer, but arrange however you wish. Season lightly with salt.
- Cut off each end of each orange. Squeeze each end over the radishes, then discard. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the orange. Cut in between membranes to remove each slice. Squeeze remaining membrane all over the radishes to extract any juice. Scatter oranges over the radishes.
- Scatter walnuts and goat cheese to taste over the radishes and oranges. Pour macerated shallots and vinegar over top. Drizzle olive oil to taste (1 to 2 tablespoons) over top. Scatter chives over top if using.
- Let sit a few minutes before serving.
- Salads, Main Dishes