Watercress and Minneola Tangelo Salad

by Joseph Erdos
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orangealmondsaladThere is probably no other fruit more versatile than citrus. Most people would assume citrus fruit, because it's sweet, can only be used in desserts. But citrus is great in both sweet and savory recipes. Just think of lemons, which are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. And oranges, too, are often used in savory recipes. Citrus juice also makes a flavorful marinade and tenderizer for meats. I love oranges in salads, especially when they are paired with Asian flavors in the form of a dressing. This salad features peppery watercress, flaked almonds for crunch, and tangelos, which lend wonderful flavor and juiciness.

My love for citrus fruit continues this week with tangelos. You have probably heard of tangerines, so that is half the story behind tangelos, which are a genetic cross between grapefruits and tangerines. The most popular variety is the Minneola, named after the city in Flordia. The fruit features a knobby stem end and has easy-to-peel skin and juicy flesh. The flavor and aroma of tangelos are very unique, not too sweet and exotically subtle. I've only been familiar with tangelos for a few years now, but I've come to love eating them almost immediately. Their juice is what makes them so renowned.

The juice gets put to good use in the dressing, a very simple 1:1:1 ratio of rice vinegar, flavorless oil (such as grapeseed), and tangelo juice. Ginger and sesame oil add the depth of flavor. When supreming the tangelos, make sure to remove all the pith but none of the flesh. Cut off either end and simply slice along the shape of the fruit. Cut into segments between each membrane. Squeeze the remaining core to get the juice. This salad would make a nice starter to any dinner. It can also be enjoyed for lunch along with a protein like chicken. It's a wonderful way to enjoy this versatile citrus fruit.

Watercress and Minneola Tangelo Salad

Note: To refresh languid watercress, soak it submerged in cool water for a few hours. Or, if not using immediately, keep it submerged in water in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Spin dry when ready to use.

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons tangelo juice
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch watercress
2 tangelos, supremed
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Combine the vinegar, tangelo juice, oils, and ginger in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the watercress in the dressing and divide among four plates. Nestle tangelo segments into greens. Top with almonds. Yield: 4 appetizer servings.

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