Spring is really something, huh? No matter how many times it comes around, I still have a giddy, butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling when things start busting out and warming up. All winter, we’ve scurried from place to place, bundled up, a bit reluctant to spread out further than the warm, safe circles we inhabit. Then, things get crazy! Color, after a season of sepia tones. The time changes! It is still light out when I get home from work.All of a sudden, the world is a place where baby kale plants and tiny white flowers exist. You dig in the ground with a shovel, shyly, almost, testing the waters. Before you know it, you’re outside in your wellies, working in the garden and drinking a can of beer left in your fridge from a shindig that took place at your house with a bunch of kids home from college. There is an untold amount of mud under your fingernails. It feels good! You ignore the fact that your new house appears to have a giant wasp population setting up residence under its eaves, because you’re in such a good mood.
Spring, I’m telling you. Nothing like it.
When I dragged myself inside, the only thing I wanted was a salad. And this, too, is a springtime revelation. There are many of you who are more virtuous than me, but when it’s cold out, the last thing I can bring myself to eat is a green salad. Warmer days are another story entirely, though. We’re at a funny point in the year, where the farmers’ market has hoop-house spinach for me to buy, but my supermarket is still sending up Florida citrus.
So: this salad. Simple. With a shallot vinaigrette, it’s a totally traditional flavor combination, but goodness—if there is something better to eat on as a very warm, mid-March day winds down, someone let me know.
Spinach & orange salad with shallot vinaigrette
I had clementine oranges on hand, but let me tell you: supreming/segmenting a clementine is a fool’s errand. Be ye not so silly; use a bigger variety of orange.
You will need
- 1 1/2 cups spinach, washed, tough stems removed and larger leaves roughly torn
1 orange, supremed/segmented (directions below)
For the vinaigrette:
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
- Make the vinaigrette: combine the shallot, vinegar, olive oil, and salt in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Taste for salt and add more if necessary. Set aside.
Supreme the orange. With a sharp knife, cut the blossom and stem ends of the orange until you can just see the fruit through the pith. Set the orange upright, and slice down the slides, all the way around, removing skin and pith. Now, insert your knife in between the membrane and each fruit segment, carefully cutting out the fruit. You might have to wiggle the segment a bit to get it to release. Discard any seeds that you encounter.
Remove any tough stems from the spinach and roughly tear any larger leaves. Arrange spinach and orange segments on a plate. Just before eating, drizzle with shallot vinaigrette.
Serve with crusty bread.
Serves 1 for a meal, 2 for a side salad, but this is obviously easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.