Although I've been following the blog for some time, I don't think I've made any of their recipes yet, so this cookbook was bought at least in part on faith. This week I made their Oro Blanco and Watercress Salad. I fully expected to have to substitute the oro blancos (a cross between pummelos and white grapefruits) with regular grapefruits, but my trusty local specialty store, Liberty, had oro blancos in stock!
This citrus is very pith-heavy; a large oro blanco yielded a few rather small, white segments. But they are light and sweet. Creamy, even. Although the recipe calls for 2 medium oro blancos, if you actually find the fruit, you would be well served by actually using 3 or even more (more work, though, of course).
My only hesitation with this recipe was my previously-ranted-about complaint about the nuts not being toasted. And to be honest, I have only a passing acquaintance with marcona almonds, so maybe they're never supposed to be toasted. What do I know? But I tried one, and decided to toast them anyway. Despite my concern that recipes that overlook this sort of step could be doomed for failure this one, fortunately, escaped the curse. Toasting the marcona almonds was the only alteration I made to this recipe, and we fell in love. Watercress, toted back home from Pike Place Market in Seattle, was just the prefect bitter counterpart to the oro blanco. I know it's not always easy to find, though, so I would suggest a baby spinach or baby arugula as a substitute.
Oro Blanco and Watercress Salad
2 medium oro blancos or grapefruits
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher or seas salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
1/4 cup (35g) marcona almonds (or other nuts)
1/4 cup (25g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly cracked black pepper
Slice off the bottom of the oro blancos or grapefruits and stand them on the cut end. With a sharp knife, cut along the flesh of the fruit, removing the skin and white pith. Supreme the fruit by cutting along both sides of the membranes separating each segment. Set the segmented fruit wedges aside in a small bowl.
In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, salt, mustard, and brown sugar. Mix thoroughly.
In a large bowl, toss the fruit wedges with the watercress and vinegar mixture.
Divide the salad among 4 serving bowls or plates. Top each with a small handful of the nuts, the Parmesan, and pepper to taste.
I love this salad.... but I really wouldn't recommend making it on an otherwise busy and chaotic weeknight, when you've also got to walk the dog, practice the cello, clean the bathroom, and have 3 books overdue for review. Let alone if you have kids! At first glance, it seems simple enough, but it's not uncomplicated. I'd say I'm about averagely skilled on segmenting a citrus, but it still seemed to take forever with these delicate (and sometimes oddly segmented) grapefruits, and then, even if you don't toast the almonds, you've still got to handpick the stems off the watercress. And then you turn around and realize that's just the salad! Don't get me wrong; I will definitely make this recipe again, I'll just be sure to do it when I have a bit more time to devote to the task.
Other recipes I'm excited to try include:
Herbed Garlic Knots
Creamed Swiss Chard in Goat Cheese on Baked Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus Spring Rolls with Bacon
Rhubarb Vanilla Bread Pudding
Kale and Chicken Egg Rolls with Ginger Soy Dip
Arugula with Braised Pork Shoulder
Zucchini-Cardamom Mini Tea Cakes
Blackberry Cabernet Crisp with Honeyed Whipped Cream
Blood Orange Bars with a Brown Butter Crust
Fig and Gorgonzola Pillows
Meyer Lemon-Iced Brown Butter Madeleines
The book is beautiful, with simple, veggie-based recipes (though it is not all vegetarian). My instincts about the recipes I found on Todd Porter's and Diane Cu's website seem well founded, based on the two recipes I've so far made from the book.