The first week back to work after a long break feels like the perfect time for a blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad. I think about food a lot (no surprise from a food blogger). I thought about food a lot before I started blogging. One of the things that I’m always curious about is the first time a human being thought to eat something. This always comes to mind for me, for example, when I eat an artichoke or some other food that seems otherwise inedible until it is transformed into something we eat. I also think a lot about food trends and how some foods aren’t regularly eaten anymore.
One of those foods features prominently in my blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad. The bitter greens category includes arugula, chard, and endive, but also includes dandelion greens. When I was growing up, dandelions were a weed. My grandparents, my mother, neighbors all spent a lot of gardening time trying to eradicate dandelions from the lawn and the garden. I did the same with my first house, digging them up and tossing them into the trash. At some point along the way, however, I learned that dandelions are edible. I would occasionally cultivate a few plants in my garden, harvesting the greens and sautéing them to toss over pasta. As it turns out, all the parts of a dandelion are edible, but that’s a story for another blog post.
Knowing that dandelions are edible and were, in fact, first brought to the US as a food and that dandelions evolved 30 million years ago (Wikipedia), makes me sad to think that we have relegated them to the status of a noxious weed in our gardens. Dandelion greens can be eaten raw in salads. The taste is a bit bitter, but also has a hint of taste that reminds me of the smell of a dandelion flower in the sun. The greens evoke some pretty serious nostalgia for me of lying in the grass as a kid in the summer. That memory makes this a perfect salad for a frigidly cold January day here in the PNW. It raises my hope level that spring really is right around the corner.
For now, dandelion greens feature prominently in this blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad. I found my dandelion greens at Whole Foods. Many natural grocers carry these greens in the winter. You can also substitute other bitter greens for this salad – finely chopped chard would be lovely, as would arugula. I also threw in a few strips of preserved lemon to brighten the salad and to add a bit of salt to cut the bitterness.
I prepared my salads for the week ahead of time. Instead of drizzling the dressing over the whole salad, I put a couple of tablespoons at the bottom of each jar and then added the salad on top. All I have to do is pour the salad out into a bowl once I’m at work.
- 3 peeled and segmented blood oranges
- 1 bunch bitter greens (dandelion greens, kale, or arugula or some combination of some or all)
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 10 thin slices of preserved lemon
- Juice of one blood orange
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- pinch salt
- pinch ground black pepper
- Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and close tightly. Shake to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and enjoy!
And is also linked to Kahakai Kitchen: Souper Sunday. Check out all the great soups, sandwiches and salads!