Whole Orange Balsamic Arugula Salad
Bright orange citrus, vibrant green peppery arugula, crisp refreshing romaine, the bite of red onion . . . what a great combination.
Winter brings bright citrus of all kinds. Navel oranges are at their best starting in December and going through April. This salad is very simple with only four ingredients in the oil-free whole orange balsamic dressing and only four in the arugula salad allowing the bright and bold flavors of each ingredient to come forward. The sweetness of the winter orange and peppery taste of the arugula makes this one of those magic combinations. Crispy romaine gives a refreshing bite and texture with a more neutral flavor to balance the salad.
Using the whole orange instead of just the orange juice in the dressing makes the dressing thick and rich tasting. I love that this doesn’t need any added fat. The white part of the orange, which has a zesty and slightly bitter taste balances the sweetness from the juicy orange flesh. It is also what makes the dressing thick with a very full rounded flavor. Garlic and mustard give an extra pungency and the balsamic vinegar adds an acid brightness and a touch of sweetness. All of these notes play well with the orange.
The quantities in this recipe make enough for about eight dinner salad plates depending on the size you like and what else is for dinner. If there is extra, not a problem, as it does well in the refrigerator overnight. The dressed salad still tastes great and has good texture the next day so I don’t mind making a larger batch. My husband loves it on sandwiches and with vegetable burgers. If you don’t want the extra, divide all of the ingredients in half and use a small clove of garlic. This orange balsamic arugula salad is a perfect accompaniment for the Mirepoix Mirepoix Lentil Soup and the Red Lentil Soup with Carrot and Ginger.
Tools Used in this Recipe
- salad spinner
- Cutting Board
- Chef Knife
- hand (immersion) blender & cup or standard blender
- paper towel
- large prep bowl or salad serving bowl
- salad servers or Tongs
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 small navel oranges
- 1 tsp dijon mustard*
- 3 tbls balsamic vinegar
- 2 small navel oranges
- 6 cups arugula washed and dried
- 8 large romaine lettuce leaves washed and dried
- 1/2 red onion
- Cut of the hard stem end of the garlic clove(s), then cut horizontally through the clove, and remove the germ in the center of the clove as it tends to be bitter. (see photo #1).
- Peel all 4 oranges, slice into 1/4 in rounds, then into wedges. The wedges from two of the oranges will be used in the dressing and can go in the blender cup. Wedges from the other 2 oranges can go in the salad bowl. For plating, you can also set aside a few of the wedges for each plate on top of the dressed salad to preserve the bright orange color on the finished salad.
- Add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the blender cup.
- Wrap a paper towel around the top of the blender cup and around the blender arm so it doesn’t splatter out.
- Start to blend with a pulsing mode (on for a few seconds, off, and on again). Continue to blend until smooth. Taste it to see if it needs anything. When tasting keep in mind the the orange wedges in salad will add an extra brightness and sweetness.
- Stack the romaine leaves and cut into ribbons crosswise. If the romaine lettuce leaves are really large, make one or two cuts lengthwise first, then into ribbons. Place in salad bowl
- Add the washed and dried arugula into the bowl.
- Slice the red onion by knife or use a hand mandoline and slice right into the bowl.
- Add the orange wedges to the greens in the bowl.
- Pour about 1/3 of the dressing around the inside rim of the bowl and mix in with tongs or your incredibly clean hands. Pouring around the rim as opposed to directly on the greens gives a more even distribution of the dressing. Taste it and add more dressing as needed to your liking.
- You can leave the salad in the bowl and serve family style or plate up individually. Add the undressed orange wedges for brightness if you set some aside.