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Citrus and Cucumber Salad

We are in the throes of citrus season (I’ll throw in persimmon season too) and, depending on where you live, this season is brief.  Growing up in Florida we had orange, tangerine, persimmon, and fig trees in our yard.  What we didn’t pick from our own trees we were able to find at the roadside stands on the way to Starke or Jacksonville.  Indian River fruit as well as pecans were abundant and locally grown.

While I no longer live in Florida, I am very fortunate to still have family there and friends in southern California.  Therefore, I’m still blessed with an abundance of these fruits via the mailman.

Now’s the time to enjoy and preserve these orbs of sunshine while in season.  My friend Jeff recently made Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade.  I’m twisting his arm with the hope that he’ll share a pint or at least the recipe.  I’ll make the biscuits!

Then there are Meyer lemons that can be preserved [1].  These can be savored in a couple of months with your favorite tagine.  Be sure to pack a few extras in the salt and aromatics to enjoy when tomato season comes around again.  They are perfect paired with slices of big boy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and torn fresh basil leaves, all drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic.

Photogragh by David Schmit

While we delight in the citrus season enjoy them peeled and eaten out of hand, or be indulgent and supreme a few in a salad.  The preparation below includes Meyer lemons, navel oranges and grapefruit.

Serves 4

1 – 2 Meyer lemons, depending on size
Kosher salt to taste
1 sweet red bell pepper
1 English cucumber
1 navel orange, supremed*
1 ruby red grapefruit, supremed
1 head of frisée, torn into bite size pieces
1 head of endive, separated into individual spears
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard [2]
2-3 teaspoon Vinegar du Citron or fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe avocado, sliced just before serving
1/4 cup or so, pecans toasted and chopped (optional)

Wash the lemons, and slice as thin as possible – no thicker than 1/8 inch – making sure to leave the rind on. Using the tip of a paring knife, pick out as many seeds as possible.

Put the lemon slices on a plate and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Remove the stem, core, and seeds of the bell pepper. Cut the flesh into thin strips, no more than 1/8-inch thick.  Set aside.

With a mandolin and leaving the peel on, slice the cucumber paper thin into long ribbons until reaching the seeds. Then slice from the opposite side.  Set the sliced cucumber ribbons aside.

Prepare frisée and endive by washing and drying.  Set aside until ready to assemble.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard and vinegar (or lemon juice) in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.

When ready to serve, dress each vegetable separately (bell pepper, cucumber, frisée, and endive) with a little vinaigrette. Choose a very shallow serving bowl or deep individual serving plates.

Drain the lemon slices and lay a couple on each plate. Divide the remaining ingredients on each plate, tucking the cucumber ribbons in among the lettuces. Slice and add avocado.  Toss a few pecans around each plate.  Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette, and serve.

*I could spend the day, photographing how to supreme citrus or send you to a link that gives you all the details.  I’ve chosen to send you to a link that explains it perfectly.  How to Supreme Citrus [3] from the blog Chef In You.