This is such a refreshing salad; sweet, salt, bitter and spicy by turns. It makes a light lunch for two people or a starter for four and it’s as good in winter as in summer. It’s a movable feast.
You can vary the salad stuff, although I like the snap and slight bitterness of the chicory, and of course leave out the ham if you don’t eat meat.
But do please try the burnt oranges and the spiced walnuts. They lift this salad out of the ordinary.
Salad with Burnt Orange and Spiced Walnuts (serves 2-4)
2 heads of chicory (green and red, if possible)
Big handful of lamb’s lettuce
About 100g Serrano ham (optional), sliced into strips
For the spiced nuts:
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (1/2 tspn if you like things hot)
1/2 tspn ground cumin
1/2 tspn ground coriander
1/4 tspn salt
1 heaped tspn honey
For the dressing:
Any juice left from preparing the orange
Juice of up to 1/2 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the spiced nuts, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and toss the walnuts to coat. Sprinkle over the cayenne, cumin, coriander and salt. Add the honey and stir well, making sure the walnuts are well coated. Remove from the heat and scoop onto baking paper to cool.
Over a plate, peel the skin and pith from the orange and cut out the segments, discarding the pips and reserving any juice. If you have a blowtorch, place them in a heatproof tin and scorch both sides until you have blackened tiger stripes.
Otherwise, heat a pan, pat the segments dry, coat with a scrap of oil and quickly scorch them on both sides. Carefully remove to a plate and set aside.
Pour any juice left from peeling the orange into a small lidded jar, adding enough lemon juice and olive oil to make a sharp vinaigrette. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, put on the lid and give it a good shake to emulsify it. (Or whisk everything in a small bowl.)
Pour a tablespoon or two of dressing into a salad bowl. Break off the chicory leaves, slicing in the stalks finely as you go, and add to the bowl. Toss to mix.
Mix in the spiced walnuts and Serrano ham, then scatter with the burnt orange and serve straight away.