Saturday, December 24, 2016


The shortest day of the year is the brightest day. Low winter sun streams through the front windows, reaching all the way to the back of the room. The rays light up a bowl of oranges, causing the fruit to glow like small suns. 

Winter sunshine.

After a week of rain (and some serious flooding), the sunshine is a blessing. It warms the back of my neck where I sit at lunch and heats the water in the solar hot water system. The sun dips early behind the ridge and then it’s time to light a fire in the hearth. One thing about the winter solstice—the days are getting longer again.

Winter is citrus season. Here’s a bright and sunny salad to light up the dark.

Golden butternut squash and cut-up oranges make a salad full of bright colors and flavors.

Serve the salad as a side dish or--

in individual salad dishes as a starter.

Winter Salad with Oranges and Squash
Ensalada de Invierno con Naranjas y Calabaza

Serve the salad, room temperature, as a side dish on a festive table. It goes well with turkey, duck, pork or salmon. Or plate it individually and serve as a starter.

The butternut squash can be prepared with the dressing a day before serving, but the oranges are best cut up shortly before serving.

Serves 6 as a starter or side.

To cut up the oranges: Slice peel and white pith from the oranges, then cut them crosswise. Cut the slices into bite-size pieces.

2 cups diced butternut squash (approx. ½ squash)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup sliced black olives
2 cups cut-up oranges (2-3 oranges)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salad greens

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the diced squash. When water returns to a boil, cook the squash 2 minutes and drain. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.

Heat ½ teaspoon of the oil in a small skillet and toast the pine nuts. Reserve them.

Add remaining oil, vinegar, oregano, pepper and ½ teaspoon salt to the squash. Cover and allow to marinate at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

Shortly before serving, add the onion, olives, oranges and parsley. Heap the squash and orange salad on salad greens in a shallow bowl or on individual plates. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Holiday lunch in the sun. That's my son, Ben, and grandson, Leo. Besides the orange-squash salad, on the table are scarlet-pickled onions, mango chutney and partridge pâté (all those recipes appeared in recent blog posts). I also served roast turkey with a gluten-free mushroom and brown rice stuffing; dairy-free double-mashed potatoes; roasted brussels sprouts with walnuts; almond nougat mousse (recipe posted last week) for dessert along with bars of turrón (nougat) for the no-dairy guest.

More recipes with citrus fruits:
Orange and cod salad.
Avocado, grapefruit and fennel salad.
Lemon salad.
Artichoke and orange salad.
Sweet potato and clementine salad.
Intensely orange syrup.
Anchovies in orange escabeche.
Fish soup with sour orange.
Chicken tagine with lemons.
Lemon-roasted chicken.
Duck breast with Clementine sauce.

¡Felices Fiestas! Happy Holidays!

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