One of my favorite things about winter is fresh-squeezed orange juice. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve spent many years of my life surrounded by orange trees. Growing up in California, we actually never had an orange tree of our own but the thing about living in the San Joaquin Valley is that even if you don’t have an orange tree, you always know several people who do. It’s been several years since I’ve lived in California but now here I am in Sicily, surrounded by orange trees once again, and I’m loving it!
There’s just something about the smell of a freshly peeled orange that will brighten my mood even on the worst days. And since I spent December and part of January suffering through a terrible bout of insomnia, these oranges have really had their work cut out for them. I’ve been juicing them in the morning, snacking on them during the day and adding them to green salads in the evening. I even served my latest orange salad creation at Christmas dinner. Since it seemed to be a hit then, I decided to share it with you.
Thanks to my cousin Corinne for helping me figure out the salad dressing recipe once and for all. Here it is:
Orange Cranberry Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
1 head Butter, Boston or Bibb lettuce
4 oranges, peeled and sectioned
handful of sweetened, dried cranberries
handful of toasted walnuts
crumbled blue cheese
4 T. fresh orange juice
1 T. white wine vinegar (or anything you have on hand)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
4 T. olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Wash and dry lettuce, tear into manageable pieces and put in salad bowl.
2. Using a knife and working over a bowl to catch the juice, peel and section oranges, tossing the orange slices onto the salad as you free each one.
3. As you finish each orange, squeeze juice from whatever orange flesh is left on the peel and from the handful of membrane you should have left over. Set bowl of juice aside.
4. Add the cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese to the salad then place in refrigerator while you make the dressing.
5. Measure out four tablespoons of orange juice into a small mixing bowl. Add vinegar and garlic then slowly whisk in the four tablespoons of oil.
6. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Just before serving, add desired amount of dressing to salad (you’ll probably have some left over) and toss well.