Rhubarb is back in the market!
And, after a few weekends of travel, and missing the Saturday Farmers Market, I’m happy to be back in my tiny kitchen with a refrigerator so full of spring produce that it can barely close.
Throughout the winter, I sliced Cara Cara oranges into salads: I paired them with avocado, tossed them with kale and cabbage, and a few weeks ago, they delivered bright, juicy flavor to this baby spinach salad, which included duck leg confit, goat cheese and dried cherries.
I combined baby spinach and Little Gem lettuces. I liked the contrast of the tart cherries and sweet Cara Caras from the last go around, so kept those two elements, along with sliced red onions and added thin slices of Asian pear for sweetness and crunch. I tossed the salad in a dressing made with Cherry Balsamic vinegar — slightly sweeter than regular Balsamic with bright cherry flavor — and my favorite Joelle Late Harvest Manzanillo peppery olive oil from the Farmers Market.
After plating, I sprinkled the salads with shards of habit-forming Naked Goat cheese that I picked up from C’est Cheese. It’s a six-month aged Spanish goat cheese that is mild, but has tangy, sweet notes. And, for a crunchy, salty finish, I quickly crisped up paper thin slices of Serrano ham in a saute pan and crumbled then on top of the salads before serving.
While I served it with the refreshing and beautiful gazpacho, I think this salad would make a great main with sliced grilled chicken — or duck — laid across the top. Improvise as you like: apples or pears easily could fill in for the Asian Pear and if the ham isn’t your thing, consider tossing a few salty Marcona almonds across the salad instead.
|Mixed Greens with Cara Cara Oranges, Dried Cherries, Naked Goat Cheese and Crispy Serrano Ham||
- 6 heaping handfuls of greens (I used equal parts baby spinach and Little Gem lettuces)
- 1 Cara Cara orange (or Navel orange), peeled and supremed. (Here is a link to a post that explains how to supreme citrus: http://bit.ly/vox3BZ )
- 1/2 medium-sized Asian Pear, cored and sliced thin (feel free to substitute either a crisp apple or pear)
- 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup shards of Naked Goat or other Spanish cheese (Manchego is a good option as well)
- 2-3 slices of Serrano ham, sliced paper thin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- freshly-ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 Heaping Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I like a strong, peppery oil)
- Wash and dry greens and place in a large bowl. Add the supremed orange, Asian Pear, sliced red onion and dried cherries to the bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel.
- Using a vegetable peeler, “slice” the cheese and set aside in a small bowl.
- In a medium saute pan over medium heat, place the slices of Serrano ham in one layer; when they begin to bubble (1-2 minutes) flip them and cook for another minute or two. Remove the ham from the saute pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Make the salad dressing: whisk the salt, pepper, Cherry Balsamic Vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil together in a measuring cup.
- Toss the salad with the dressing and plate. Divide the cheese shards and crispy ham crumbles on each plate before serving.