I’m a tomato snob. If it’s not home-grown, I won’t eat it. That means March is kind of a tough month–I crave tomatoes; I crave gorgeous summer salads with ripe, juicy tomatoes and that perfect acid-sweet balance that a great tomato provides. So in pursuit of a sweet and tangy substitute for perfect summer tomatoes–and maybe a little gory color too–I rummaged through my local farmers market this morning and came home with blood oranges, fennel and avocados. Oh, and some pretty red leaf lettuce too.
One of the growers had Moro oranges, the darkest red of all blood oranges; they were small and fragrant. I peeled and sliced two of them and juiced a third one, slivered a bulb of fennel (just the white part), and peeled and sliced a nice ripe Haas avocado. I thought it needed a fairly delicate dressing, and luckily I remembered that someone had given me a bottle of Vilux hazelnut oil as a hostess gift in December. It’s a lovely, buttery oil, delicate and delicious, so I made a simple vinaigrette.
Hazelnut and Citrus Dressing
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
1/4 cup citrus juice (I used the juice of one Moro orange and 1 Bearss lime)
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together, taste and adjust the seasoning. If you like a sharper dressing, add a little more lime juice. Wash the lettuce and tear it into bite-size pieces. Spread the lettuce on a platter, then alternate slices of oranges and slices of avocado atop it, sprinkle the fennel slivers over all and drizzle the dressing over it. The result is pretty and inviting–and yummy.
It’s not ripe ‘Japanese Black Trifele’ tomatoes fresh from the garden, but it’s a darned good salad.