This salad is one I make many times each winter and I figured it was about time that I share the recipe! In non-Covid times, this salad is a staple for dinner parties because it’s an absolutely beautiful dish and feels kind of fancy, too. But dinner party or not, juicy oranges, olives, and tangy mustard and shallot dressing make for a delicious, vibrant salad that seriously brightens up any hearty winter menu.
What makes this salad really special is the way the contrasting flavors are in perfect balance with one another. The sweetness of the oranges tempers the bitterness of the radicchio, and the olives add a nice savory and briny note. The dressing is a classic red-wine & olive oil vinaigrette with plenty of Dijon mustard. I use one of my favorite little tricks here, too: I add the shallots to the dressing and let them sit for about ten minutes. They lose a bit of that “raw-onion” intensity and add a tangy, oniony element to the dressing. I do this almost every time I add raw onions to a salad and I think it makes their flavor so much more subtle and delicious.
A quick note on lentils: for this salad – or any salad – it’s best to use a smaller variety of lentil. Red lentils, or the brown lentils that are sold in plastic sacks next to the dried beans at the grocery store, fall apart too much when cooked and don’t hold up well in a salad. The best varieties to look for are Beluga lentils (they’re tiny and black, and sometimes sold as just ‘black lentils’) or French Le Puy lentils. Those are dark greenish-brown in color. If you can’t find either of those varieties, it’s better to substitute a grain, like farro, quinoa or wheat berries, than to use larger lentils.
I serve this versatile salad with everything from roast chicken to pork chops to sauteed shrimp to roasted sausages with whole grain mustard on the side. But my absolute favorite thing to pair it with is simply roasted salmon. Citrus and salmon are made for each other. <3
And while this makes a great standalone side dish for most weeknight dinners, if I’m doing a bigger menu I’ll serve it with roasted potatoes on the side, too. OR, I’m serving it with something really hearty like a stew or braised meat, I’ll omit the lentils and just serve some good bread with the salad.
Radicchio is a very bitter lettuce, and I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. In this recipe, I toss the radicchio leaves with the lentils and vinaigrette while the lentils are still warm, so that the heat and dressing soften the radicchio a bit. Still, if you’re really not a fan of bitter flavors, feel free to use baby arugula instead. Just be sure not to add the arugula until just before serving.
I’ve also made the feta optional here. It adds a nice creamy element, but you could also use avocado in its place to make this salad vegan. Sometimes I’ll swap avocado for feta when I serve the salad with salmon.
If you make this recipe, let me know in the comments below! I hope everyone is staying well and staying warm. 🙂
Winter Citrus Salad with Radicchio and Lentils
- ½ cup black, beluga, or French Le Puy lentils
- 2½ pounds oranges, preferably a mix of navel, Cara Cara and blood oranges (about 5 oranges)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for serving
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup thinly sliced shallots, packed (2 small shallots)
- ¾ cup pitted Castelvetrano or other green olives, smashed flat with the side of a knife
- 1 small head radicchio, leaves separated and torn into pieces, or 4 cups baby arugula
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- Torn fresh mint leaves, for serving
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the lentils, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. Drain, place them in a large, shallow bowl or platter, and cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a glass measuring cup, then add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Add the shallots, stir, and set aside for 10 minutes. Use a fork to lift the shallots from the dressing, and place them in a medium bowl.
- Using a small serrated knife, peel the oranges and trim any remaining pith. Slice the oranges crosswise into thin circles about 1/4-inch thick, remove any visible seeds, and add the oranges to the bowl with the shallots. Add the olives, toss gently, and set aside.
- Add the radicchio leaves to the platter with the lentils, drizzle with half the remaining dressing, and toss. Set aside until the lentils are completely cool. (If using arugula, wait until just before serving to toss with the greens with the lentils and dressing.)
- Arrange the oranges, olives, and shallots over the radicchio, adding a few spoonfuls of the juices left behind in the dish. Drizzle with more dressing to taste, top with the feta and mint, and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.Copyright 2021, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved