Citrus fruits pop next to fat from avocado, olives

Distinctive citrus needs little adornment to constitute a salad.

Case in point is Citrus Salad With Avocado in this week’s food section. The only ingredient that infers a green salad is the cilantro leaves scattered atop the orange and avocado slices.

Another favorite in this vein is Orange, Fennel and Olive Salad. Is a theme emerging here? As this blog’s previous post acknowledged, the rich contrasts of avocado and olive make citrus pop even more on the palate.

While cheese isn’t the most obvious citrus pairing, there are a few natural duets. Think cheeses that are predominantly salty and tangy, that is to say fresh without much in the way of funk.

Haloumi, which I’ve raved about in previous posts, shouldn’t be passed up during citrus season. There’s also this recipe from the Los Angeles that takes a few high-quality ingredients and uses them to full effect.

If you can’t find Montealva cheese, consider substituting high-end goat or sheep feta. The haloumi would yield an entirely different, but worthwhile, dish. When I’m really stumped on which cheese would be a good substitute for an obscure one, I inquire at Rogue Creamery’s cheese shop in Central Point.

For more information on some of the more unusual citrus varieties cited here, see my story in this month’s Oregon Healthy Living magazine.

Tribune News Service photo

Winter Citrus With Montealva, Arugula, Black Olives and Marconas

2 teaspoons minced shallots (from 1 medium to large shallot)

1/3 cup blood orange juice

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons, extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

Assortment of citrus, including pomelos, blood oranges, tangelos, cara cara oranges, mandelos, oro blanco grapefruit and kumquats

6 slices Montealva or similar Spanish goat cheese

6 to 10 arugula leaves

2 tablespoons citrus vinaigrette

1 teaspoon diced black olives

2 teaspoons crushed Marcona almonds

Fleur de sel, for garnish

In a nonreactive bowl, macerate the shallots in the blood orange juice for 5 minutes. Add the sherry, orange zest and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and balance depending on how sweet your blood oranges are. This makes about 1/3 cup vinaigrette, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days.

Cut the citrus in segments or pinwheels. Recipe creators prefer to cut blood oranges and kumquats into pinwheels, and segment the rest. You’ll want 2 to 4 pieces of each citrus.

Divide citrus between 2 salad plates, and tuck in the arugula leaves and cheese slices. Drizzle over citrus vinaigrette. Sprinkle over the black olives, almonds and fleur de sel.

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Los Angeles Times from a dish served at Lucques restaurant in Los Angeles

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