Blood oranges possess a rich reddish orange color that contains anthocyanins, which are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their purple, blue and red color. The darker the color means there are more anthocyanins in the orange. Packed with nutrients and a rich source of fiber, blood oranges are a great addition to salsas, juices and salads, especially the following salad recipe.
This update on the classic grapefruit and avocado combination includes thinly sliced white mushrooms, which offer a pleasant textural contrast. This first-course salad is best in the spring months, when the vivid maroon-colored blood oranges, now grown commercially in California, make their appearance. Blood oranges have a distinctively rich orange flavor with raspberry overtones that has been featured in Mediterranean diet for centuries.
I love two varieties of blood oranges. The Moro is available from December through March, and the Tarocco is available now through May. For this recipe, select blood oranges that are firm to the touch and weighty for their size.
The dressing here adds additional blood orange flavor to the salad. Depending upon how tart the orange is, you might add a pinch of sugar to the dressing. Some people like to peel and then section each segment for this salad. In true Seriously Simple style, I prefer to divide the sections and cut them into bite-size pieces. Feel free to add some shredded chicken or chopped shrimp to this salad and serve it as a main course. A crisp baguette would be a nice accompaniment.
Blood Orange, Mushroom and Avocado Salad
Serves 4 to 6
For the dressing:
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
Juice of 1 medium blood orange (about 1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
2 medium heads of butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 blood oranges, peeled and sections cut into bite-size pieces
6 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 ripe medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into bite-size pieces
1. For the dressing, finely chop the shallot in a food processor; with the motor running, add the orange juice and vinegar. Slowly add the oil until it is completely incorporated. Add the salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
2. Arrange the butter lettuce in a shallow salad bowl. Place the orange pieces and mushrooms on top of the lettuce in an attractive pattern to make a pretty presentation before tossing.
3. When you're ready to serve, arrange the avocado slices around the outside edge of the bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing, and serve.
Advance preparation: This dish can be arranged up to 4 hours ahead through Step 2, covered, and refrigerated. The dressing can be prepared up to two days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties," and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
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