It’s Spring, but it’s still winter weather in a lot of places. This is that in between salad that is so refreshing, sweet and aromatic, a perfect accompaniment to winter meats and broiled fish. In one version, I layer it with ricotta salata, a salty sheep’s cheese, and it’s a lunch.
The cara cara navel orange, a cross between the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel, made it’s way to the United States from Venezuela in the early 80’s, but I’ve only just become familiar with them, taking on a two a day habit and putting them into everything.
The cara cara has a short season from January to April, but fills the gap well between apples and the summer fruits. It can find it’s way into cocktails quite nicely and is simply a treasure when just eaten by itself.
While even a typical navel orange can be a bit acidic, grapefruit sometimes a tad too tart, and Meyer lemons a bit to perfumey, the seedless cara cara has a unique, sweet taste with a hint of berry. The color is gorgeous and vibrant, and the taste is surprising, because the acid is so low that you can don’t’ have to pucker up when you take a bite.
The Process for the Cara Cara Fennel Salad
This is but a simple, nearly no recipe, salad but why not share it with you, if just to look at how pretty it is. In the early days of Spinach Tiger (almost 7 years ago), I posted an orange fennel salad and used ricotta salata cheese. That’s a salty cheese and would be a perfect addition to counter the sweetness, so I’ll list that as an option.
I thinly sliced the fennel, and dressed it with olive oil, salt and pepper, then added a splash of champagne vinegar. Now in hindsight, I should have added a bit of the zest. I’ll note that in the recipe. Just make it to taste.
So tell me, have you had a cara cara orange. Do you cook with them?
- 1 stalk fennel, thinly sliced
- 2 cara cara oranges (save the zest of one)
- extra virgin olive oil
- champagne vinegar
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 ounces ricotta salata (optional)
- Clean the fennel well. Trim and slice.
- Toss fennel with olive oil, zest vinegar to taste.
- Season with salt & pepper
- Peel oranges.
- Cut into sections.
- Add optional ricotta salata