Mixed Citrus Salad is a sweet, savory, and easy way to bring new life to your favorite fruits any time of year.
The first time I had citrus salad was back in college (more years ago than feel possible, but “Go Spiders!”). At least a few times a week, my friends and I would meet off campus between classes to grab lunch at one of Richmond’s many cafés. On this particular spring afternoon, I remember arriving at the restaurant with a craving for a country ham and brie croissant, and found myself intrigued by the citrus salad on the “specials” board. I’d had my fair share of fruit salads in the past, but one made entirely of oranges? Dressed with a tangy vinaigrette? It was a “must try” that instantly set my heart aflutter. In my version of the salad, I drizzle orange and grapefruit slices with white balsamic-honey vinaigrette and top them with fresh basil, mint, crumbled goat cheese, and a sprinkling of sea salt and cracked pepper. This Mixed Citrus Salad is simple way to dress up fruit for a light lunch or side dish that’s a refreshing departure from the ordinary.
The type of citrus you use in this salad is entirely up to your personal preferences and what’s available in your local markets. The nice thing is that with varying citrus varieties arriving year-round, the salad is not limited to any particular season. I love to use a mix of navel and blood oranges here, but my search for the latter the day I photographed this post left me empty-handed. (I’m not one to accept defeat easily, but after batting zero at six different stores, I packed up my navel oranges and came home.) Clementines are a great addition, as are tangerines or tangelos, if you can find them. Bear in mind that grapefruit can be bitter and the flavor can become overpowering if used with too heavy a hand. We love to make this salad using mostly sweet citrus varieties, punctuated with grapefruit.
With so few ingredients in simple salads such as these, the flavor of each component really has a chance to shine. I love to use local wildflower honey in my vinaigrette for its delicate, herbal notes. Fragrant fresh mint is a classic pairing with citrus and the basil brings a peppery bite that we find complements the goat cheese and cracked pepper well. (If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember that I received a beautiful bouquet of mint, basil, and edible flowers from a dear friend’s garden last week, all of which I used here.) In terms of preparation, the salad takes less than 20 minutes (just peel and slice the fruit, whisk together the vinaigrette, and plate), so it’s a great option for hot summer days, or a few months down the road, to cure the winter doldrums.