Citrus Salad w/Dandelion Greens, Lentils and Ricotta Salata

I am not a big salad lover but the right salad will cause an immediate contradiction.  I think of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie’s line in Quentin Tarantino’s film, Django Unchained, “Gentlemen, you had my curiosity….but now you have my attention.”  That’s the best way I can describe the right salad. 

Enter my Citrus Salad w/ Dandelion Greens, Lentils and Ricotta Salata.  As spring is getting underway, the abundance of fruit and vegetables are inspiring within me new recipe ideas.  This citrus salad includes three types of oranges with varying hues.  Cara Cara, Blood Orange and Navel Oranges.  Cara Cara oranges are a red-fleshed navel orange that is sweet with cherry undertones.  The Blood Orange is a ruby-red fleshed orange that is sweet and tart (my favorite one) and lastly, the navel orange, which is plump, juicy and sugary sweet.  All of these sweet oranges round out the other flavors of the pleasantly bitter Dandelion Green.

Dandelion greens can be treated as any green.  They benefit well with lightly sautéing them in oil and garlic to round out the bitterness.  The last piece to this salad is one of my favorite cheeses.  Ricotta Salata.  If you like ricotta cheese or feta, then ricotta salata is for you.  It’s an Italian cheese that is firm and salty.  So, it goes well with sweet flavors.

I added mint to the salad, as well as brine cured black olives and pistachios for crunch. To say that this salad is brimming with complex flavors is an understatement but trust me they compliment each other well.

Citrus Salad w/ Dandelion Greens, Lentils & Ricotta Salata//serves 2

salad
2 cara cara oranges, peeled and sliced crosswise
2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced crosswise
2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced crosswise
1-cup French lentils
1 large garlic clove, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups dandelion greens, large leaves torn in half
6-8 mint leaves
½ cup of brine-cured black olives (or your favorite olives)
3 ounces ricotta salata, shaved into long strips
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher Salt & Cracked Black pepper to taste

garnish
pistachios

Bring 2-½ cups water to a boil in a saucepan with lentils, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt.  Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the balsamic vinegar and olive together in a small mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Divide dandelion green between two bowls, top with sliced oranges, lentils, mint leaves, brine-cured olives.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture on top of salad. Add shaved ricotta salata and garnish with pistachios.  Season with salt and pepper.