Whenever we go to the store in the winter time I can’t help but pick up a few citrus fruit. Our apartment is small and space is limited both in our refrigerator and on our counter top, so I always try to limit how much I pick up (plus, there’s only so much one can carry). On this particular week we ended up bringing home one grapefruit, one orange and one lime. And what better way to enjoy them than to let them shine together in a bright and colourful citrus salad?
making a bright winter salad with citrus & cauliflower
This recipe could be great for a family or a group of roomates or friends who love to cook together – with one person in charge of the citrus, one taking care of the cauliflower, a third managing the dressing, and perhaps a fourth on toppings. It’s otherwise luckily just a simple four-step process for the solitary cook.
time: 15-20 minutes
yield: enough for two sides or one main
- cauliflower, about ¼ of a head
- grapefruit, 1 whole one
- orange, 1 whole one
- shallot, 1 whole one
- lime, about ½
- honey, 1 to 3 tsps
- pomegranate seeds, about as many as you’d get from ½ a pomegranate
- fresh mint, a few small leaves
- red chili flakes
- poppy seeds
- olive oil
I’ve divided the preparation into simple steps, with photos and GIFs added for added clarity. As a visual learner, I generally find watching someone cook (rather than reading about it) a whole lot more helpful:
- Start by cutting straight down through the centre of your cauliflower, then cut again so as to get a steak-like slice roughly 1cm in thickness* – repeat twice to get 3 slices total. Remove the stem from each “steak” and separate the florets, allowing for chunks of varying sizes.
*about as thick as the tip of your pinky finger is wide, if that’s more helpful
- In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, add a small amount of olive oil, then rub in each piece of cauliflower one by one so as to thinly coat them with the oil. Sprinkle them with some salt and pepper, let cook without disturbing until golden (but not brown), then flip and season again, leaving the florets alone to cook until golden on their other side. This’ll take approximately 5-6 minutes per side.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave the cauliflower to rest until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
Cut a teeny tiny bit off the top and bottom of your orange, then use your knife to carefully cut off its peel and pith. Do not discard the peels. Once your orange is naked, you may cut it across its width into slices about as thick as the cauliflower slices (i.e. 1cm). Repeat with the grapefruit.
- To make the dressing, start by slicing a shallot across its width as thinly as you can.
- Transfer it to a mug or small bowl, then squeeze over it the juice of your ½ lime plus whatever juice you can squeeze out of your orange and grapefruit scraps. Sprinkle in some salt and give everything a stir, allowing the acid and salt to mellow the shallot a bit.
- Add in 1 to 3 teaspoons of honey, depending on how sour or sweet you’d like things to be, and as much freshly cracked pepper as you’d like. Lastly, pour in approximately 2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (again, this depends on how much you like acidity – use less if you like things a bit sharp, more if you prefer things a bit rounded).
- Stir, loosening rings of shallot as you go, and set aside.
tip: the best way to taste a salad dressing is to do it the same way you’d eat it — with salad. So take a small piece of cauliflower and dip it into your dressing to see whether or not it floats your boat, then adjust accordingly.
It’s time to assemble the citrus salad! Layer your citrus slices and cauliflower slices however you please on a plate, then pour on enough of the lime dressing (with the shallot rings) to generously coat everything. Top with pomegranate seeds, poppy seeds, red chili flakes, fresh mint leaves and salt and pepper. All that’s left to do now is enjoy.
First, in case it’s helpful, let me tell you that my favourite way to de-seed a pomegranate is to start by rolling it with light force against the counter top to loosen its seeds a bit. Then I cut a bit off its top and bottom and make shallow cuts along its ridges. I pull the fruit into sections using the cuts as my guide then simply remove the seeds into a bowl by hand. Sometimes a small bowl of water by my side to keep my hands juice- and pith-free also comes in handy. And have no fears about leftover pomegranate seeds, they make a delightful snack.
Second, know that you could add a tiny splash of sesame oil to the dressing and top the citrus salad with sesame seeds instead of poppy seeds for a pleasant twist. And speaking of twists, blood oranges would probably be a delicious addition or substitute in this salad – I just haven’t had the luck to find any yet!
Lastly, note that this recipe is likely to multiply well (as long as you’ve got a big enough serving dish).
Is it the wrong season for a citrus salad? Check out this cheerful summer salad!