Monday, February 9, 2015

Mixed Citrus Salad with Thinly Shaved Shallots, Cubed Feta Cheese, Fresh Mint Chiffonade, a Drizzle of Homemade Spicy, Fresh Cracked Pepper Honey and Champagne Vinegar Vinaigrette, Olive Oil, + Fleur de Sel

Okay guys, prepare yourself mentally... I'm really going out of the box today with this recipe. It doesn't have butter, it doesn't have bacon, or buttermilk, or a crispy outer coating, or anything southern really ((let the shock set in for a few seconds)). This is something healthy and gorgeous and vegetarian. Woah, I know. At the peak of winter, every citrus fruit is practically at its best, so why not use them to our advantage? I bought multiple citrus... blood oranges, cara cara oranges, navel oranges, ruby red grapefuits, clementines, tangelos, meyer lemons, and limes (and probably more that I can't even think of). I'm not going to lie to you, prepping the citrus for the salad can be tedious and time-consuming, but if you're willing to eat a piece of artwork, like this dish, it's so worth it. Pretty much, you have to remove the rind and the bitter pith, leaving behind gorgeous "carpaccio" style slices. After you've done every citrus, the hard work is pretty much done! Arrange a plate with the prepared citrus in any colorful manner you like. I decided to do a rainbow/ombre pattern and I think it looked fabulous! Next, I whipped up a delicious and easy-breezy dressing to drizzle over the top. It's made with honey, raspberry champagne vinegar (you can use any flavor really though), dried red pepper flakes, and fresh cracked pepper. Cube up or crumble some fresh feta over the top of the citrus, followed by a drizzle of the homemade honey dressing and olive oil. I finished it all off with a scattering of mint chiffonade and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. The salad is so juicy and practically explodes in your mouth. The cheese offsets all of the acidity and heat because of its delicious creaminess, while the spicy + peppery honey perfectly accents all of the other components. Finally the fresh mint gives the dish a final herbaceousness that should not + cannot be missed. I really hope y'all get around to making this unique salad because it is so different than anything that I have made before. I imagine it would be fabulous during the spring or summer as well... with a bottle of white wine!! Enjoy :)
For the Spicy Fresh Cracked Pepper Honey + Champagne Vinegar Vinaigrette:
¼C Orange Blossom Honey
2T Champagne Vinegar
½t Fresh Cracked Pepper + Dried Red Pepper Flakes
For the Mixed Citrus Salad:
3 Blood Oranges
1 Ruby Red Grapefruit
1 Cara Cara Orange
1 Navel Orange
2 Clementines or 1 Tangelo
1 Meyer Lemon
1 Lime 
Cubes or Crumbles of Fresh Feta Cheese
Fresh Mint, Chiffonade
1-2 Shallots, Thinly Shaved
Prepared Honey Vinaigrette (listed above)
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flakes of Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling
1. For the Homemade Honey Vinaigrette: In a mason jar, add the honey, champagne vinegar, fresh cracked pepper, and dried red pepper flakes. Shake the heck out of it until the dressing is cohesive, the honey has dissolved into the champagne vinegar, and the pepper/red pepper flakes are speckled throughout the vinaigrette. Set it aside until you are ready to use.
2. Preparing the Citrus: Slice the different citrus fruit into rounds, and then using very sharp kitchen scissors, carefully cut off the rind, making sure to get rid of the white bitter pith. Gently remove any seeds. Continue until all of the citrus have been finished and resemble a citrus “Carpaccio”.
3. Preparing the Salad: Cut the big block of fresh feta cheese into small cubes (or you can also decide to crumble it as well if you prefer). Shave a few shallots, using a kitchen mandolin, until you have thin slices of the onion. Chiffonade the fresh mint into small strips.
4. Assembling the Salad: Scatter a thin layer of the shaved shallots on the bottom of your serving dish. Shingle and layer the prepared citrus rounds in an overlapping fashion, so that they cover the entire plate (we decided to go in a rainbow colored scheme, but you could also do random or strips of color if you please). Place the cubes of feta into any holes that you see that need to be filled on the plate. I also scattered some crumbles on top, just for a little extra. Drizzle as much of the spicy honey vinaigrette as you want all over the salad, making sure to get all of the fresh cracked pepper + dried red pepper flakes (these ingredients really balance against all of the sweet flavors of the dish). Drizzle a few spoonfuls of olive oil on top of the dressing as well. Finish by garnishing with a sprinkling of fleur de sel and chiffonade mint.
5.  Enjoy this refreshing salad with a glass of white wine!

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