Friday, April 1, 2011
I have a very efficient running stride. That's a nice, and overly complimentary way, of saying I barely lift my feet off the ground. So if I stop paying attention for even a moment, I tend to go sprawling. I don't think I've ever, before now, taken responsibility for this tendency. I usually just blame it on one of the dogs and their habit of running after squirrels in Central Park, thus turning the leash into a trip wire. But truth be told, I usually just trip myself. It's one of the hazards of refusing to run on treadmills, I guess. But the bandage on my right palm is like a badge of honor. I run outside, people. Through the winter.
Oh winter. I hate you. I do. I hate you, and I hate my long running tights, and my thermal wool running shirt from Norway, and my running jacket. Hate, hate, hate. It needs to be, like, 30 degrees warmer Right. Now. And here's the not-at-all-creative segue. The end of the winter, when the end doesn't actually seem to be in sight, calls for the kind of salad that depends on produce that's actually available, but is not a stogy, soggy, boring winter salad. Boring winter.
Que the blood oranges, and the fennel, the onions and the olives. Then drizzle the above with a vinaigrette made from cranberries and cranberry juice for color and kick. If you're like me, you grab bags of fresh cranberries in November when they start appearing for the holidays and freeze them for later use. In which case, you can use real cranberries in the vinaigrette like I did. Although I will warn you that real cranberries are substantially more tart than the dried kind, so you might have to compensate with extra honey. Or you might just be the kind of person who loves things tart. If it's a case of the latter, than you can substitute the navel oranges called for in the original recipe with blood oranges, as I did. Making this salad absolutely pucker-worthy.
Orange, Olive and Fennel Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Adopted from John Ash's From the Earth to the Table
3 large navel oranges, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds (I used blood oranges, which are tarter, but delicious and beautiful if you're up for it)
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced vertically. Keep the fronds aside for garnish and for the vinaigrette
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup mixed brine-cured black olives
Cranberry Vinaigrette (follows)
Put the oranges, fennel and onion on a serving platter and sprinkle with the olives. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and garnish with chopped fennel fronds.
For the Vinaigrette:
3 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup dried cranberries (or use fresh, as I did)
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons chopped feathery fennel fronds
Honey to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour the cranberry juice into a saucepan, then add the wine and the cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to about 1.5-2 cups, about 10 minutes. (You'll have leftover vinaigrette)
As the liquid reduces, sauté the shallot in a little olive oil until soft. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
With your immersion blender, blend the cranberry juice mixture until smooth. Or carefully use a normal blender. Pour the liquid over the shallots and whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle over the salad before serving. The vinaigrette might be quite tart, so start with less. You can always add more if you need it.