Citrus Season is in full swing here in my San Diego back yard! I absolutely know how lucky I am to have not only a generously producing orange tree, but a lemon and lime as well. Planted as little slips and literally arriving in quart sized cartons they have grown into wonderful producers who willingly provide us with orange, yellow and green fruits for months on end.
|This year's and next year's Margaritas!|
Growing up in Northern California we also had an orange tree. I remember how my grandparents, from Minnesota, would pose by the tree on each and every visit. Somehow though, I took those orange globes for granted. They were always there and easy to get. But then I moved away from home and was slapped into reality when I tasted my first store bought orange. Blech!! It must have been weeks old, was mushy and mealy and had absolutely no flavor. My loving dad came to my rescue with a bag of home grown oranges and we haven't looked back!
Dad is still providing us and a good portion of my neighbors with bags of the precious citrus and has been proclaimed to have one of the best trees around! Serving sliced oranges to the kids, I'm frequently asked, "Are these our oranges or Papa's?" receiving a smile when I confirm that they are Papa's. Not that our oranges are bad... his are just better. He says it is because he talks to them... and I'm sorely tempted to take up a conversation with our tree next time I need advice.
With a bag of no less than 50 sweet, juicy oranges on our table we definitely needed a use. My buddy Giada once again came to the rescue with her Spinach Salad and Orange Vinaigrette. Altering it to what we had on hand, we added my current green obsession, arugula, and I couldn't help myself from topping it with a generous handful of blue cheese. Filled with greens, pancetta, onions and oranges and dressed with a lovely orange/balsamic vinaigrette I had 6 smiling faces. I guess I'd better go tell the tree!
Spinach and Arugula Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1/4 cup bacon or pancetta, cooked and crumbled
1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey (optional - I didn't use this, our oranges were sweet enough!)
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 - 4 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sliced sweet onion
crumbled blue cheese
In a small bowl or blender combine the orange zest, juice, balsamic, honey, garlic, and salt and pepper. Whisk or blend until smooth and combined. Add the olive oil and continue whisking or blending until combined. Transfer to a container and store in the fridge until ready to use. Makes about 1/2 cup, may double or triple if you would like!
In a salad bowl combine desired amount of spinach and arugula. Add orange slices and onions. Toss with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the salad and sprinkle with bacon/pancetta and blue cheese.