I just received a wonderful new compliment on my latest book, The Art of Cooking with Lavender. The unsolicited review is from a lavender grower, Ginna Gemmell, who carries my book in her gift shop at Lavender Green in PA. But Ginna is not just a grower, she cooks with lavender, too. In fact she says she’s working her way through the recipes, and has liked everything she has tried–including this Winter Citrus Salad with Lavender-Citrus Vinaigrette.
“What’s inside the book is a treasure! We had a small dinner party over the holidays for lavender lovers and I made the meat balls, salmon, the winter fruit salad, and the individual triffles for dessert. Everything was complementary, not overpowering but flavorful and memorable. I think I’m now up to 30 or so of your recipes and every one of them has been a success.” She then said, “I can also add that your directions are wonderful and cover just the kinds of questions that come up for me around technique and equipment, too.”
Wow, I am so thrilled and excited that she has explored the book and has enjoyed the dishes. As she mentions, I included all kinds of recipes, from appetizers and entrees to salads to desserts. I was especially happy to hear that the lavender was flavorful but not overpowering. Some seem to think that culinary lavender is strong, but it is merely enticing and delectable when used properly.
The photo at right below shows a couple of the recipes from the book: On the left is the Lavender-Orange Gourmet Syrup, in the middle, homemade lavender extract, and on the right, lavender plum jelly. The winter fruit salad that Ginna mentioned is shown above and below. It’s just one of over 70 color photos in the book.
IMO the salad is just as good as it looks. All kinds of citrus fruits are in season now. I used blood oranges and juice oranges, but mineolas or tangerines will work, too.
The dressing can be readied well ahead and the fruit and greens can be prepped, making this salad convenient for entertaining. It is gluten-free and light and healthful. If you’d like to add the optional caramelized pecans as a garnish, a recipe is here.
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped red onion
- 1 to 1¼ teaspoons chopped fresh culinary lavender buds or dried culinary lavender buds
- 5 tablespoon strained fresh blood orange juice (or substitute orange juice if necessary)
- ¼ cup plain unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- Scant ½ teaspoon each sea salt and dry mustard powder
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground white pepper, to taste (substitute black pepper if necessary)
- Winter Citrus Salad
- 3 to 4 cups mixed crisp bitter greens, such as escarole, romaine, curly endive, and radicchio
- 3 cups mixed citrus segments, such as oranges, blood oranges, tangelos, and mandarin oranges
- ½ to ⅔ cups caramelized pecans, optional
- Very thin red onion slices or shreds for garnish, optional
- For the vinaigrette: Vigorously whisk together the olive oil, onion, and lavender in a small deep bowl. Let stand to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a jar with a non-reactive lid thoroughly stir together orange juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard powder, and white pepper. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve into the jar, pressing down to force though as much oil as possible. Tightly cover the jar and shake well. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Shake well before serving. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to 10 days; bring back to room temperature before serving. Makes ¾ cup vinaigrette dressing.
- For the salad: At serving time, toss the greens lightly with the dressing . Arrange the greens in a salad bowl or divide among 4 salad plates. Arrange the citrus segments over the greens, then drizzle them lightly with more dressing. Garnish with the caramelized pecans, and red onion (if using), and serve immediately. If desired, pass the dressing so diners can add more to taste. Makes 4 side dish servings.