I read a book today.
This probably doesn’t impress you, but for me, it’s a big deal. I’ve always been a bookworm. Since childhood, I’ve always stayed up late curled up with a good book and a flashlight under the covers. Even when I was fatigued as a new mom and operating on limited sleep, I still somehow found time to read.
But in the last several years, time seemed to deny me this indulgence, and I’ve been reading the same book for the last three years. It’s a running joke in our family. Even my husband has polished off more books than I can count as I struggled to finish this one (and if you told me this when we first met, I would never have believed you).
One of the best parts of allowing myself time off during the holidays is cracking that book open again — you guys, I am determined to finally finish it AND move on to the shelves of books waiting for me! I guess if I have one goal for 2019, it would be to read more.
So, just to keep things accountable, I’ll say it out loud. I’m finishing All the Light We Cannot See (affiliate). I’ll keep you updated.
How about you? What are you reading?
Now, novels are one thing, but when it comes to cookbooks, well, I have no problem finding time for those! This Christmas, my son gifted me with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samrin Nosrat – we watched the Netflix series of the same name a few months ago, and my family knows well how much I adore her and her approach to food. Her cookbook does not disappoint – I just love it.
Samrin presents recipes as a roadmap rather than a rigid guideline, so whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner, you can make the recipes your own, while still embracing the spirit of the recipe.
Hence this salad.
I first made it when we hosted our annual Christmas dinner for relatives — we needed something light and refreshing between all the heavy comfort food we were all preparing. And since no one had mentioned bringing a salad for our potluck, I did a quick survey of the kitchen to see what I had on hand.
Bright, Cara Cara oranges were my inspiration and base for this salad, along with some perfectly ripe avocados. The first salad I made was a slightly pared down version of this — but in subsequent salads, I’ve loved adding the fennel to the quick pickle for its crunch and flavor. There’s just something about fennel and citrus that work so well together.
But of course, in the spirit of Samrin, feel free to customize this to what works best for you and whatever is fresh and delicious in your market. Perhaps you have some sweet grapefruit? Or mandarin oranges? She makes it with roasted beets (which I full support – I adore beets in salad!) and also suggests adding eggs, but for now, I like to keep it bright and fresh and easy, to balance all the indulgence after the holidays.
Citrus and Avocado Salad with Quick-Pickled Fennel
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 onion)
- 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 3 small oranges (I used Cara Cara, feel free to use naval, blood orange, mandarins, or 1-2 segmented grapefruit)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 avocado pitted, peeled and sliced
- 2 springs fresh mint (optional)
- sea salt to taste
- Cut the top off the fennel bulb, saving the fronds for garnish. Discard the stems. Trim the bottom of the fennel, quarter the bulb, and trim the tough core in the center. Thinly slice the fennel and place in a glass bowl.
- Add the red onion to the fennel, along with the vinegar. Toss to evenly coat and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
- Prepare the oranges by cutting the tops and bottoms off and placing it on one of the cut sides on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife to follow the curve of the orange and slice off the peel and any white pith. Turn the orange on the side and cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Arrange on a platter.
- Arrange the fennel and red onions on top of the orange slices, reserving about 8 slices of red onion and the liquid in the bowl.
- Finely chop the reserved red onion and return to the reserved vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Right before serving, arrange the avocado on top of the salad. Drizzle the dressing on top. Garnish with fennel fronds and mint, if using. Sprinkle with good sea salt, and enjoy!