Sometimes I catch myself laughing out loud, privately, while listening to a particularly funny moment during Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, one of my favorite radio shows. Carl Kassel’s peerless narration, Peter Sagal’s tasteless jokes and Mo Rocca’s impromptu snark are like secret weapons on long walks through less than stellar neighborhoods in San Francisco. The show provides a buffer against all the unpleasant details of a rundown street, makes it a little easier to handle the fact that there are about 50,000 too many sad, club-footed pigeons and the only person who wants to take care of them is Mike Tyson. It’s sort of a triumph against the grime.
And while this salad may not make you laugh out loud, exactly, or protect you from the sight of deformed pigeons, it is also a triumph. It stands in bold defiance of winter while embracing some of its star fruits and vegetables. It is dense and nuanced with competing textures without being heavy. It is bright, crunchy, bitter, sweet and salty. The quinoa makes it heartier. And if you can find Cara Cara oranges, buy about a dozen of them. They are intensely, amazingly, profoundly sweet and the perfect foil to the sharpness of the radicchio.
(PS: Those adorable oil and vinegar cruets in the first image came from pot + pantry, a fantastic new shop worth checking out.)
This Radicchio, Cara Cara and Quinoa Salad recipe is part of The February Seasonal Food Guide.
RADICCHIO, CARA CARA AND QUINOA SALAD
Yield: about 6 servings
2-3 cups finely chopped radicchio (adjust according to taste)
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
1 cup cooked quinoa, directions below
1 cup crumbled feta
2 Cara Cara oranges (substitute navel if unavailable)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoon olive oil, separated
1 tablespoon white Balsamic vinegar (or similar mild, sweet vinegar)
salt + pepper to taste
Add 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes more, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy.
While the quinoa cooks, prepare the onions. Warm a medium skillet over a low flame. Add two teaspoons olive oil and the sliced onions. Keep covered, stirring occasionally. They should be about ready when the quinoa is.
Next, supreme the oranges. Using a sharp knife, slice the top and bottom from the orange, then slice the peel and the pith from the fruit. Holding the orange gently, slice vertically along the membrane to remove each section of orange. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the radicchio, fennel, feta, pumpkin seeds and parsley. Slowly mix in the quinoa – since it is warm it will soften things a little, which is okay. Slowly fold in the onions. Add the orange sections last.
Whisk together the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and the vinegar for the dressing, and add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently.