Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Watercress and Orange Salad with Cumin-Flavored Vinaigrette & Walnuts


What do you say we celebrate this beautiful first day of spring with a beautiful, fresh recipe?  Seriously, I'm obsessed with this salad.  After delighting in my very first bite of this exquisite meal, I proclaimed "This might be the best salad I've ever had in my life!"

Friends, I'm not exaggerating.

The inspiration for this meal came when I acquired a gorgeous bag of freshly foraged watercress from my new friend, Tim Pfizer from Herb Inc. in Birmingham, AL.  I went into The Fish Market here in town to purchase some Cobia for a photo shoot for the gulf seafood cookbook I've been working on, and met Tim in the process.  He gave me a bag of watercress to try, and my mind went to work figuring out how to put it to good use.

The solution?  Beatrice Peltre had the perfect recipe in her cookbook, La Tartine Gourmande, Recipes for an Inspired Life.  I changed it a bit to suit my tastes, and the results were mouth-watering.  I've included my changes below.

It combines ingredients that I don't normally find myself cooking with, so it was a nice departure from my usual repertoire.  For example, I never would have thought to flavor a vinaigrette with ground cumin, and then pair it with oranges.  However, the cumin is a MUST and added such an unique and interesting undertone of flavor to the dish.  The watercress lends a fresh, peppery bite, which complements the other ingredients perfectly.  Finally, the feta and guacamole add just the right amount of creamy goodness to round it all out.

This one is definitely a keeper and will make another appearance on my dinner table soon.

Thanks again to Tim Pfizer for the watercress...It was great!

Bon Appetit, my friends!


Watercress and Orange Salad with Cumin-Flavored Vinaigrette & Walnuts
Adapted from:  La Tartine Gourmande, Recipes for an Inspired Life; By Beatrice Peltre

Ingredients:
For the Vinaigrette:
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the Salad:
4 regular oranges
4 blood oranges
8 pink radishes, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, diced and drizzled with lemon juice to prevent discoloration
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups fresh watercress leaves
1 oz chopped walnuts

Directions:
To Prepare the Vinaigrette:
Combine the sea salt, vinegar and cumin in a small bowl.  Add the shallot and let sit for 20 minutes, so that the flavors blend together.  Pour in the extra virgin olive oil and hazelnut oil.  Whisk to emulsify.  Add the parsley and set to the side.

To Prepare the Salad:
With a sharp serrated knife, peel the skin and pith from the oranges.  Thinly slice the fruit and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the radishes, avocado, feta, and watercress.  Next, add the vinaigrette and gently toss once more to combine.

Take 4 salad plates and arrange the orange slices on top, alternating between blood orange and regular orange, to create a pretty pattern of colors.  Place the watercress salad in the middle and top with chopped walnuts.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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