August 7, 2012 Pasta Salad with Sun Gold Tomatoes, Green Beans and Pesto Dressing

Pasta salad, that ubiquitous summer take along for picnics, barbecues and potlucks doesn’t have to be boring. This particular one was made with fresh ingredients from our garden and a spicy pesto vinaigrette. I picked very sweet and fruity Sun Gold tomatoes and a combination of our second growth of bush beans with the first of the pole beans. I chose penne rigate as the pasta, not just because it was the only acceptable pasta shape we had on hand but the ridges would nicely hold the bits of pesto. The dressing is a slightly deconstructed take on pesto, the toasted pine nuts are added to the salad separately rather than part of the dressing to give the salad some extra crunch. Sun gold tomatoes are a relatively new favorite of ours. They are a tangerine-orange cherry tomato developed in Japan where consumers prefer a tomato that is sweet rather than tart. The recipe is just a canvas to fill in with your own summer ingredients. Choose grilled slices of zucchini, chunks of pepper, cubes of cooked eggplant, or a different variety of tomato. Walnuts would be a good choice to replace the pine nuts and a Grana Padano could replace the more traditional  Parmigiano Reggiano. Just be sure to use freshly grated cheese, not pre grated or the stuff that comes in a green can!

Pasta Salad with Sungold Tomatoes, Green Beans and Pesto Dressing

Created using the Fine Cooking pasta salad recipe maker

Serves eight


For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 1/2 c lightly packed basil leaves
  • 1/2c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c or more fresh, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3T red wine vinegar
  • 2T fresh lemon juice
  • 2t  finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2t finely grated lemon zest
  • 1t kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • kosher salt
  • 1 lb green, purple and wax beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1/2 lb small chunky pasta
  • 1T olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (l love using my Cutco steak knife for this)
  • 3T pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions for the Vinaigrette

  1. Put the basil, olive oil, Parmigiano, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Directions for the salad

  1. In a large pot bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil over high heat
  2. Drop the beans into the boiling water and cook until they are just crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Remove beans from pot with a slotted spoon and place in colander. Rinse with cool water and transfer beans to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
  3. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, following package instructions. Drain the pasta thoroughly in a colander and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the pasta with the olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Transfer the cooled pasta to a large serving bowl. Add beans and cherry tomatoes and toss. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the pasta, do not over dress. Add the pine nuts and toss again. Let the salad rest for 20 minutes or so to allow the flavors to blend and then taste the salad again. If needed, add a little more vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Grate a little extra cheese on top if desired.












The little green bean at the bottom left of the picture will eventually turn as purple as the blossoms!











Sun Golds at various stages of ripeness.

July 24, 2012 Summer Salad

A salad with tomatoes, beets and carrots? Not your typical summer salad definitely. When sweet crunchy carrots and beets and the first of the season Fourth of July and Sungold tomatoes are ready to harvest at the same time, they meet up in our summer salads. Summer is not the best season to grow lettuce.  Lettuce prefers to grow in the cooler temperatures of spring but there are some varieties that are more heat tolerant.  We plant lettuce every other week or so and harvest greens while they are young before the heat causes them to bolt.  A combination of arugula, oak leaf lettuce, lolla rosa and mustard greens are some of the greens we are harvesting now. The beets and carrots, both raw are very finely julienned and add both color and crunch. I like to make a vinaigrette with a touch of sweetness to counterbalance the slight bitterness of the greens.  Some crumbled goat cheese and Brazil nuts give this salad additional flavor and texture.

Summer Salad for two


  • 1/4 c white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1t Dijon mustard
  • 1t or so of honey or agave sweetener (depends on how bitter your greens are)
  • 3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Mixed salad greens-about 4-5 cups
  • 1 small beet, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 cup or more of Sungold and Fourth of July tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3c crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4c coarsely chopped Brazil nuts
  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl, whisk to combine, add salt and pepper to taste
  2. Separate lettuce into leaves, wash and spin in salad spinner
  3. Place lettuce on serving platter, top with beets, carrots, tomatoes, goat cheese and Brazil nuts
  4. Toss with enough dressing to lightly coat, there will be some left. Top with fresh ground pepper to taste


June 29, 2012 Broccoli Salad with Feta, Olive-Oil Fried Almonds and Currants

Broccoli is a much maligned vegetable. Former president George H.W. Bush is quoted as saying,”I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” Well Mr President. my theory is most people don’t really hate the vegetables they think they do, they just haven’t had them fresh or prepared properly, well except for lima beans. Rich in fiber, broccoli nutrients include calcium and vitamins C, K and A. Botanically it belongs to the cruciferous family which includes cabbage, kohlrabi and turnips. I love broccoli, especially when it is picked fresh from the garden and cooked within hours. After the main head is picked, side florets will continue to produce for weeks to come. It has a definite sweetness, that no supermarket fresh or frozen variety can compare to. In the off season I like to separate it into florets, toss with olive oil, kosher salt, Aleppo pepper and pinch of sugar and roast it at 450 until brown and crispy in spots. We are lucky if the roasted broccoli makes it to the table. The garden’s first broccoli heads are ready for harvest and I turned to Fine Cooking for a broccoli salad recipe. Lightly cooked broccoli is combined with sweet currants, salty feta and almonds dressed with a slightly spicy vinaigrette.. The verdict? Two of us consumed the salad that feeds four to six in one day and I made it again the next evening. A definite winner.

Broccoli Salad with Feta, Olive-Oil-Fried Almonds and Currants

from Fine Cooking Magazine #76

Serves four to six


  • 1 lb broccoli
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • 3 oz feta (preferably French), crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, tear off any broccoli leaves and trim the bottoms of the stems. Cut the florets just above where they join the large stem, and then cut each floret lengthwise in half or in quarters through its stem (but not the buds). The top of each floret should be about the size of a quarter. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel the tough outer skin from the large stem, removing as little flesh as possible. Cut the stem into baton-shaped pieces about 1/4 inch wide and 2 inches long.
  3. Boil the florets and stem pieces until they’re tender (pierce with a paring knife or taste a piece) but still offer a bit of resistance, about 3 minutes. Drain the broccoli, spread it on a baking sheet in an even layer, and set aside to cool, it will continue to cook as it cools.
  4. Put the currants in a small bowl, add enough hot water to cover, and let sit until softened, about 10 min. Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a chef’s knife, mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl and add the vinegar and cayenne. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  5. Warm 1 Tbs. of the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and fry, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 2 to 3 min. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt.
  6. Drain the currants. Whisk the remaining 4 Tbs oil into the vinegar mixture. Just before serving combine the broccoli, currants, feta, and half of the almonds in a large bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Taste and season with a pinch more salt if necessary. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining almonds and the cilantro, if using.

The changes I made to the recipe:

I didn’t need to peel the stem of my just-picked broccoli, it was tender enough. Also my broccoli was sufficiently cooked in two minutes. I did fry the almonds but I don’t see why they couldn’t be toasted if you wanted to avoid the extra oil. Marcona almonds would be a great substitute. I love French feta but didn’t have any on hand so I used a supermarket brand. I didn’t have cilantro so I substituted parsley. Basil might be nice as well.

From the garden to the cutting board.
Ready to cook.
A delicious salad!

June 20, 2012 Roasted Broccoli and Farro Salad

Unique ingredients intrigue me. Give me a vegetable or grain I haven’t seen before and it’s bound to show up in my shopping basket. This was the case a few weeks ago at the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market. Bags of grains lined the wall of one stand and a bag of farro caught my eye. All I knew at that point was that the name might be Italian, and sounded a lot more appealing than kamut or spelt. My research revealed that farro (pronounced FARH-oh) was a staple of ancient Egypt, a type of wheat brought to Europe by Julius Caesar. It was said to have fed the Roman Legion but soon fell out of favor because it is a low yielding crop. In recent years farro has experienced a resurgence.Grown mostly in Tuscany and Umbria, the small plump grains have a nutty flavor that is perfect in soups, stews and salads. Farro comes either whole grain, pearled or semi-pearled. Pearled means that the hull is removed from the grain and results in a shorter cooking time. The Aleppo pepper in the recipe is a new favorite ingredient of mine and definitely worth trying. Aleppo pepper is  from northern Syria and it is a crushed, slightly oily dried pepper. It has a complex flavor that doesn’t overpower  with a moderate heat level, some fruitiness and cumin undertones. I used a French feta cheese in this recipe. It is a sheep’s milk cheese and is much creamier and milder than the supermarket garden-variety. I have found it both at Wegmans and at the Middle Eastern stand at the local Pennsylvania Dutch farmer’s market.

We have a bumper crop of broccoli this year, the plants look great and they are yielding beautiful heads and after they are picked, a good amount of side growth. . In this recipe the broccoli is roasted, and combined with farro, feta cheese and a simple vinaigrette. I added some chopped tamari almonds for some crunch. The contrasts of creamy, chewy and the caramelized broccoli made for a delicious salad.

Today's broccoli harvest.

Roasted Broccoli and Farro Salad

adapted slightly from Fine Cooking Magazine #107


  • 3/4 c farro (either pearled or whole grain)
  • 1 lb broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces including the stems
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1T Aleppo pepper
  • 3T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 crumbled feta
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green part only
  • 2T coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley
  • 1-2T red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c coarsely chopped tamari almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of  well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the farro and cook until tender, 20 to 30 minutes for pearled and 45 to 60 minutes for whole grain. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Toss the broccoli in a large bowl with 2T olive oil, kosher salt,  a grind of pepper and the Aleppo pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast under tender, checking pan several times to ensure even browning. I use a spatula to toss things around to be certain all sides are getting brown.
  4. Add the broccoli, feta, scallions, parsley to the farro, Sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar and toss. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle almonds on top and toss. Season to taste, adjusting seasonings as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.


June 15, 2012 Southwestern Kohlrabi Slaw

 Spicy margarita baby back ribs were on the menu for our Sunday evening cookout so I thought a sweet and crunchy slaw would be the perfect accompaniment. Purple kohlrabi from the farmers market were waiting in the produce bin of the refrigerator and I just picked baby carrot thinnings and bright red and magenta radishes from the garden. The last time I made a different kohlrabi slaw I cut the kohlrabi and the apples by hand into matchstick julienne. This time I decided not to fuss as much and let the food processor do the work. Lacking a food processor, a box grater would be a reasonable substitute. If your kohlrabi is on the large side be sure to squeeze out the excess liquid before you dress the salad.
The beautiful bowl in the picture is courtesy of my dear friend, Debbie. It was given as a thank you several months ago, and I placed for display in a glass-doored cabinet. This day when I was looking for something to serve the slaw in I noticed the card that came with the bowl. “Bowling them over- Hilborn Pottery produces both hand-built and custom thrown bowls. Oven microwave, and dishwasher proof, they can be used for preparing and serving both hot and cold dishes.” Well I guess I needed some convincing that I could really use it, and that was the proof. Oh, we did hand wash the bowl and spoon.

Kohlrabi Slaw

Serves 6 to 8 as a side


  • 4 small to medium kohlrabi, trimmed, peeled if necessary
  • 1 small carrot (i used about 6 mini carrot thinnings=1 small)
  • 3-4 radishes, trimmed
  • 2-3t lime juice
  • 1t cumin
  • 1/2t mild chili powder
  • 2-3T extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. Shred kohlrabi, carrot and radishes with the medium shredding disc of the food processor.  Place in a bowl
  2. Combine lime juice, cumin, chili powder in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  3. Immediately before serving, pour enough dressing over shredded vegetables to coat. Toss slaw, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.

June 13, 2012 Red Quinoa Salad


As a long time fan of grain salads, I was pleased to see my favorite food magazine Fine Cooking’s article in the June/July issue, The New Summer Side-summer grain salads. Their nifty recipe maker feature allows you to drag and drop ingredients into a bowl and gives the cook countless combinations of grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts to make their own unique grain salad with a final recipe to print out at the end.  I chose quinoa as the base for my salad. KEEN-wah (as it is pronounced) is not a really a grain, but a pseudograin, a relative of chard and beets, grown for its seeds.  It has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for over 5000 years. The “mother grain” as quinoa is translated in a Native American language, is rich in fiber, complete protein and B vitamins. It is gluten-free and easy to digest. Red quinoa has been described as both sweeter and earthier than the yellow. I chose it for the contrast in color to the green vegetables. Asparagus was in season at the farmers market and I picked Easter egg radishes and snow peas from our garden. Don’t skip rinsing the quinoa, the saponin coating is bitter and not always fully removed in processing. I look forward to using the create your own grain salad recipe maker throughout the summer as more vegetables come into season to come up with many new combinations.

Red Quinoa Salad

Serves 8 to 10


  • 2 c red quinoa (you can substitute yellow or black)
  • 1/4c white balsamic vinegar
  • 2T fresh lemon juice
  • 2T roasted walnut oil
  • 2t  honey
  • 1t finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 c asparagus
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1/2c thinly sliced radishes
  • 1c sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4c crumbled feta cheese
  • 1T finely snipped chives
  • 1T finely chopped flat leaved parsley


  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh colander under cold running water and drain well before cooking.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the grains turn from white to transparent and the spiral-like germ has separated, this could take anywhere between 15-20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain very well.  Transfer quinoa to a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little bit of the olive oil and allow to cool completely.
  3. Put the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and grated lemon peel in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the olive and walnut oils. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Trim asparagus into 1 inch diagonal pieces and transfer to a microwave safe container with 1/2c water, 1T olive oil and 1/2t kosher salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 4 minutes, check for doneness, thicker stalks may take a little longer. Drain in a colander.
  5. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add sugar snap peas and cook until the peas turn bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse. Slice on the diagonal.
  6. Place cooled quinoa in a bowl large enough to toss all ingredients. Toss quinoa to break up any clumps. Add asparagus, radishes, snow peas, walnuts, feta, chives and parsley and toss with about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette. Taste and season as needed with more vinaigrette, salt and pepper.
  7. You can either serve the salad immediately or refrigerate to serve the next day. Bring to room temperature before serving and season again as needed.

May 30, 2012 A Spring Salad


The spring salads we enjoy are a combination of our garden’s bounty, fresh produce from the Wrightstown farmer’s market and new tastes that have caught my eye, or in this case, my ear. This salad is no exception. The Lolla Rossa lettuce, snow pea shoots and Easter egg radishes were from the garden. The mini Hakurei turnips were from the farmer’s market and I had a ripe avocado in the fridge. The sweet Japanese turnips reminded me of something else sweet that originated in Japan that I had in the refrigerator, a Sumo citrus.
I first heard about the Sumo on two of the food podcasts I listen to, Good Food hosted by Evan Kleiman from KCRW Los Angeles and The Splendid Table hosted by Lynne Rosetto Kasper. Self proclaimed “fruit detective” and food writer for the Los Angeles Times, David Karp wove a tale of intrigue behind the fruit that took over 30 years to develop. The Dekopon, as it was originally known in Japan, is a cross between a satsuma mandarin and California navel orange. It has been sold in the United States since 2011 under the name Sumo citrus because the topknot on the orange resembles the hairstyle worn by sumo wrestlers. Karp told his listeners that “of the 1000 varieties of citrus he had tasted, the Dekopon is the most delicious” and “the pulp has the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity”. I wanted to try one but learned that most of the small distribution would be on the west coast with some in larger markets on the east. I was pleasantly surprised to find Sumos in my local Wegmans. Two of the plump Sumos were five dollars, a bit pricy, but the accolades piqued my curiosity. I must agree that the easy to peel Sumo was the tastiest citrus I ever tasted. I decided to add one to my salad this evening. The combination of the frilly magenta-leaved Lolla Rossa lettuce, sweet mini Hakurei turnips, delicate flowering pea shoots, creamy avocado slices and wonderful bursts of sweet citrus courtesy of the Sumo made a wonderful salad.

Spring Salad for two


  • 1/4 c pomegranate tangerine vinegar
  • 1t Dijon mustard
  • 1t minced shallot
  • 3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • splash of orange olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Two small heads of Lolla Rossa lettuce
  • 4 Hakurei turnips, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 Sumo Citrus supremed
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
  • A handful of snow pea shoots and tendrils


  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl, whisk to combine, add salt and pepper to taste 
  2. Separate lettuce into leaves, wash and spin in salad spinner
  3. Place lettuce on serving platter, top with turnip slices, Sumo, avocado and pea shoots.
  4. Toss with enough dressing to lightly coat, there will be some left. Top with fresh ground pepper to taste


May 23, 2012 Kohlrabi, Fennel and Blueberry Salad


The kohlrabi bulb grows above ground.

Just what you are clamoring for, another kohlrabi salad. What, you say you have never had a kohlrabi salad, or maybe you have never tried kohlrabi at all. The funny looking vegetable with the equally unusual name is a member of the cabbage family. Kohlrabi gets it’s name from a German word, kohl-cabbage (think cole slaw) and rabe -turnip. It has a milder flavor than either of those vegetables, the best description I read was that it tastes like broccoli stems. Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable since the bulbous part grows above the ground and is studded and topped with leaves that  resemble those on a broccoli plant. Kohlrabi has been a part of our spring garden for the past few years.  I enjoy it most harvested at 2-3 inches in diameter and served raw.

Just picked kohlrabi, love that purple color!

I was pleased to see the Best New Chefs issue of Food and Wine magazine of July 2011 included a kohlrabi salad from former Top Chef contestant,  Stephanie Izard. She was the winner of season four and currently is executive chef of The Girl and the Goat in Chicago. The goat part of the restaurant name comes from her last name, Izard, a type of goat antelope native to the Pyrenees mountains. I probably would have never made this recipe if it wasn’t for the fact that I was bored with making every variation of kohlrabi and apple slaw. A good combination, but it was time for something new. The balance of sweet and savory flavors in this recipe is spot-on. The crispness of the kohlrabi and fennel contrasts with the sweet blueberries and the warm nuttiness of the almonds and the  goat cheese. Since I am already a fan of Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog, I chose their Midnight Moon as the cheese to top my salad with but I’m certain that crumbles of a soft goat cheese would work as well. I did not peel my kohlrabi as indicated in the original recipe since it was fresh from the garden and it was sliced very thinly.

Trimmed bulbs, ready for slicing.


Notice how you can see through the slices…love my Kuhn-Rikon mandoline.


Kohlrabi, Fennel and Blueberry Salad

adapted from Stephanie Izard, Food and Wine Magazine


  • 1/2c slivered almonds
  • 1T minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2T minced shallot
  • 1T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1T mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2t Dijon mustard
  • 1t soy sauce
  • 1t pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 canola or other flavorless oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4lb kohlrabi, trimmed and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1/2c semifirm goat cheese (I like Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon,) shaved
  • 1c blueberries or pitted, halved sweet cherries
  • 1T torn mint leaves


  1. In a non-stick skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat until golden in color, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. In a blender combine ginger, shallot, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce, and maple syrup and puree.  With the blender running, add the oil in a thin stream and blend until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the kohlrabi with the fennel, cheese, toasted almonds with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Add the blueberries and mint and toss gently. Serve immediately.

May 19, 2012 Arugula and Strawberry Salad

 A marriage that began in the 70’s and is still going strong today is the arugula and strawberry salad. A mainstay of the once popular wicker and fern restaurants, the combination of peppery arugula and juicy sweet strawberries, unlike the leisure suit, still holds up today. We have several stages of growth in our arugula, thanks to Joe’s staggered plantings. I wanted to use the smaller leaves for salad as I thinned out the row. I took advantage of some of the first local strawberries from the farmers market, organic walnuts and creamy goat cheese to make this classic combination.

Arugula and Strawberry Salad

adapted slightly from Epicurious


  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2T sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
  • 2t finely minced shallot
  • 1t (or to taste) sugar
  • 2T canola oil
  • 1T walnut oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8c arugula, washed and spun dry, tough stems discarded
  • 1 1/2 c strawberries, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1/2c fresh goat cheese, crumbled


  1. Roast nuts in a shallow baking pan at 350F until fragrant and slightly browned, about 6-8 minutes, watch carefully. Cool nuts then coarsely chop.
  2. Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, sugar. Add oils in a slow stream, whisking until well combined. Season dressing to taste with additional salt, pepper and a pinch more sugar.
  3. Toss together arugula, strawberries, walnuts and dressing to taste. Divide among salad plates, dot with goat cheese and a grind of freshly ground pepper.


May 12, 2012 Jicama, Avocado, Radish and Orange Salad with Cilantro

To say that I enjoy making salads would be quite the understatement. I love playing with the various elements that make up a interesting combination, crisp greens, raw and occasionally cooked vegetables, fruit, meats, grains, nuts and cheeses. Now that spring is here I can turn to the garden for some of my salad elements. Jicama, Avocado, Radish & Orange Salad originated with Fine Cooking magazine. This salad contrasts the crispness of the jicama and radishes with creamy avocado with the sweet tanginess of citrus.  The radishes and cilantro are from the garden and I made it my own with the addition of baby spinach and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. It would be appropriate with a Tex-Mex or South of the Border menu but would also be great with barbecued chicken.
The oranges in this salad are cut into supremes.  Supreming (soo-premming) is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in slices. You will need a cutting board, a sharp knife to remove the peel and, as I prefer, a small thin blade knife to loosen the segments. Trim the top and bottom off the fruit so that it can stand up on the board.  Then, cut the skin from the flesh, starting at the top and following the curves down. Use your knife to cut the segments free from the membrane. I have been doing this for about a year and think my supreming skills are improving. It does take practice and not every fruit is perfectly segmented inside. Too much work? Substitute canned mandarin orange segments and a few tablespoons of orange juice in the dressing, I won’t tell…

Jicama, Avocado, Radish, Orange Salad with Cilantro

Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Serves 6


  • 4 oranges
  • 1t cumin seeds
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5T fresh lime juice or more to taste
  • Large pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small jicama
  • 8 small radishes, cut into very thin round slices
  • 5 scallions, white and light green parts cut diagonally into thin slices
  • 2 large firm but ripe avocados
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 cups baby spinach, washed and spun dry
  • 2T toasted pine nuts


  1. Finely grate 2t zest from the oranges and set aside. With a sharp knife, slice the ends off the oranges. Stand each orange on one of its ends and carefully pare off the peel and pith in strips. Working over a small bowl, cut the orange segments away from the connective membrane. Squeeze the membranes over the bowl to collect any remaining juice.
  2. Toast seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until fragrant and a shade darker. Or, toast  in a shallow baking pan in a 350F oven, 5 minutes or so. Allow to cool and grind in a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice mill. Mince garlic and mash to a paste with 1/4t salt with the side of a large knife or in a mortar and pestle.  Place cumin and garlic in a small bowl and whisk in 2t orange zest, 3T orange juice, the lime juice and a large pinch of cayenne. Whisk in the olive oil.
  3. Peel the jicama and cut into matchsticks, 1/8 inch thick and 2 inches long. In a large bowl combine the jicama, radishes, scallions and toss with about 2/3 of the vinaigrette, add the orange segments and toss gently.
  4. Thinly slice the avocados, drizzle with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the spinach leaves in a serving bowl, top with the jicama mixture, then the avocado slices. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped cilantro. Season to taste with remaining vinaigrette, salt and freshly ground pepper.