During these winter months, our bodies tend to gravitate towards warmth. Whether it be warm clothes, a comfy blanket, our favorite slippers, or when it comes to the food we eat. But there are some things we don't want to leave out of the mix. Winter citrus! Mandarins, Meyer lemons, persimmons, lemons, kumquats, satsumas, blood oranges, and clementines are just a handful of healthy winter citrus that can be enjoyed in many ways.
The natural acidity in these citrus fruits can be a complement to rich foods, fish, poultry, desserts, and make a perfectly delightful and fresh tasting salad. Not only are winter citrus packed with flavor, but they are chock full Vitamin C. It is well documented that Vitamin C is a natural fighter against colds which makes that another important reason to included a variety of citrus in your diet in the winter months.
This salad contains a balanced combination of citrus, but also includes some radicchio and fennel. If you are familiar with my recipes, you know I am a lover of fennel. However, radicchio may be something you are not all too familiar with. Radicchio is plant that resembles a small cabbage. It is a cold weather plant which makes it perfect for a winter salad. The leaves have a bitter taste but when used with the right ingredients, they are delicious!
Do you want to know a cool fact about radicchio? The substance that causes the bitterness is called lactucopiorin. You might be thinking, "So what does that mean"? Well, lactucopiorin is a natural sedative and analgesic that effects the central nervous system. So if you suffer from insomnia or pain, radicchio could quite possible be your new best friend! Some other facts about radicchio are it is very low in calories, full of antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, vitamin k which helps with bone health, and is a good source of minerals like iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and potassium. You gotta love the natural health benefits we have right at our fingertips!
Another ingredient I want to touch on is kumquats. These tiny oval shaped fruits bring me back to my childhood. Growing up, my grandparents had a small kumquat tree. Oh how we loved to pick those cute little fruits off the tree and eat them up like candy! There is one quality in particular that might surprise you about kumquats and sets them apart from other citrus fruits. You eat them completely whole, peel and all! I know that may sound strange, but I promise you, they are so delicious! They do have one or two seeds inside, so you can just remove those while eating them. Not a big deal. The peel is rich in essential oils, antioxidants, and fiber. Of course they are also rich in vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, selenium, and calcium. So if kumquats are new to you, I encourage you to seek out these tasty little treats at your local market while they are in season.
Those are just two of the special ingredients in this salad that I am completely fond of. You will notice a fennel bulb, blood oranges, clementines, and mandarins as well. When you segment the citrus, you will do so over a bowl to catch the juices. With those juices, you will create a nice dressing to complement your salad. If you are not familiar with the proper way to segment fruit, check out this tutorial. Enjoy this with some chicken or fish as they pair well!
6 cups mixed greens
1 cup radicchio, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, remove stems, thinly sliced
3 blood oranges, peeled and segmented
3 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
3 clementines, peeled and segmented
6 kumquats, sliced with peel on
1 Tbs fresh mint leaves, minced
1/8 cup slivered almonds, optional
1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries, optional
For The Dressing:
2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 Tbs pure maple syrup (depends on your sweet preference)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup reserved citrus juice from the fruit above
1. Chop the greens, thinly slice the radicchio, and thinly slice the fennel. Reserve the fronds for garnish. Mince the mint leaves and set aside. Place the greens, fennel, and radicchio in a large bowl.
2. Peel and segment the blood oranges, mandarins, and clementines over a small bowl to catch the juices. You will use the citrus juice for your dressing. Leaving the peel on, thinly slice the kumquats.
3. Add the citrus to the greens. in the small bowl with the citrus juice, add the olive oil, maple syrup, and sea salt. Whisk to combine.
4. Toss the salad with the dressing. Garnish with mint, fennel fronds, almonds, and dried cranberries or cherries. Eat immediately. Serves 6.