As much as I love cooking, I often don’t have/don’t make enough time to do it regularly. Plus, cooking for one can sometimes be more hassle than it’s worth. So I do a lot of what I call “composing”- putting together really simple, sometimes pre-made ingredients until I have something that resembles a meal. This means I make a LOT of salads, since I can use about anything I keep in my fridge, put some vinaigrette on it, and ta-da! a meal, sans stove or oven.
Since I don’t do a lot of cooking per se, the ingredients need to be great on their own. I tried some of the best oranges I’ve had in a while at the farmers market last week, and wanted to make something that would showcase them, since the best of citrus season is finishing up. And with spring popping up everywhere, I was looking for a dish that was cool and fresh.
I also had some amazing blue cheese remaining from my visit to Antonelli’s cheese shop in Austin, and thought the last bits deserved a treatment a little more unique than being slathered across a slice of bread (though that’s still be my favorite way to enjoy a really good cheese). So I picked up two fresh heads of lettuce, one red oak leaf and one butter lettuce, along with my oranges for a salad.
The salad that inspired this dish is actually something that my family usually eats around Christmas time, and is one of my most favorite salads of all time. My mother, who got the recipe from my grandmother, usually makes it for Christmas Eve or Christmas day dinner. But the flavors are good for all seasons, and I used a vinaigrette in place of creamy blue cheese dressing from my mom’s recipe so that the salad was a little more spring-y.
Blue Cheese and Orange Salad
Makes 1 dinner salad, 2 side salads
I used both standard EVOO and an orange-infused olive oil, but a different citrus or fruit infused would work well too, if you have it on hand. The reason I used both is because sometimes infused dressings can overpowering, and I wanted to temper the flavor. I also like a little more acidic salad dressing, so adjust the vinegar quantity to your liking.
The recipe for the dressing will make more than needed for this salad. I typically end up using about half of the amount of the dressing for this salad.
The blue cheese will taste best if allowed to come to room temperature.
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon orange-infused olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ~ 1 teaspoon orange juice
- A bit of salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 1 large navel orange
- 1 ounce blue cheese, cut into small cubes or crumbled
- 1 ounce walnuts (a small handful), broken in small pieces
- 1/2 large or 1 small shallot, chopped finely
- 3 cups lettuce, torn. I used both red oak leaf and butter lettuce
Cut the rind off of the orange and then halve. Slice each orange into wedges, and then into small 1/2 inch pieces.
Add any leftover orange juice to a small bowl, and mix with the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper
Toss the lettuce with 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing, then transfer to your serving plate or bowl.
Add the orange pieces, walnuts, blue cheese, and shallots, then serve!