Clean. That’s what this tastes like. I’ve been thinking about this salad all week, and when I close my eyes, that’s the word that appears. The arugula is bright and peppery, it’s sharpness and definition welcome after the meals of winter- the soups and the purees and the root vegetables yielding with a velvety oomph under the spoon. The blood oranges are soft and sweet, their juices running as you slice into them. The color always gives me pause; dramatic, tainted. The feta plays nicely here, it’s tang affirmative, present, it’s richness the perfect contrast to the austere greens. The candied almonds add a pleasant layer of crunch, along with a welcome touch of whimsy. With it’s bright colors and surprising, fresh flavors, this salad is sure to grab your attention.

I found the arugula at the market, lush bundles tied with twine, picked the day before. The sign read 1 bundle for $2 or two for $3. I can never resist a bargain, and chose two, catapulting us headlong into the Week of Arugula. I made this salad two days in a row before Yaki ventured he didn’t love arugula’s peppery flavor. The rest of the week I spared his plate as I went on an arugula bender: when I made pasta with tomato sauce, Yaki’s portion stayed monochromatic, while mine was scattered with greens; when we had these Unda-Style Quesadillas (my current obsession), mine were stuffed with arugula. By the end of the week, the last bunch was dwindling, and I was contemplating turning it into a pesto, along with the tops of radishes which were also demanding my attention. I washed the greens, spun them dry, and before I knew it, I had drizzled olive oil into the bowl, picked it up into my hands, and was eating it by the forkful, leaning against the counter.

Arugula Salad with Blood Oranges, Candied Almonds & Feta

Inspired, loosely, by Nigel Slater’s Tender

I played with this salad to get it just right. I found I liked the greens just lightly dressed, so I prefered to drizzle them with oil once on the plate, as opposed to tossing them with oil first. I tried dressing the greens with just olive oil, as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which I liked as well, but settled on a light drizzle of hazelnut oil. Lastly, I tried it with roasted, salted almonds, and toasted, seasoned croutons, but I felt that the Sweet and Spicy Almonds really elevated this salad to another level entirely. I had some microgreens on hand, so I tossed those in, their tiny leaves playful among the sword-like arugula. 

I think this works especially well as an appetizer- a gorgeous way to tease the palate. So that’s the size I’m aiming at with the quantities below. It’s infinitely adjustable though, from the ingredients to the proportions, so play around.

Yield: Serves one, as an appetizer

1 handful of arugula mixed with microgreens, washed and dried

½ blood orange, sliced

6-8 Sweet and Spicy Almonds

1 ½ tablespoons crumbled feta

Hazelnut oil for drizzling

Lay the greens on a plate and lightly drizzle with hazelnut oil. Top with blood orange slices, and scatter almonds and feta across the plate.