I woke up at 3:11 am this morning because I thought there were 3 Lilliputian workmen stomping on the bridge of my nose – with jackhammers. Turns out it was nothing that aspirin, water and a nap couldn’t fix.
I am in the deep South. It’s hot. And it’s balmy. When I say balmy I am not describing the weather as mild and refreshing. I mean balmy as in the nuts, bats, batty, bonkers, buggy, cracked, crackers, daft, dotty, fruity, haywire, kookie, kooky kind of balmy. It’s so humid it’s like I got out of the shower and forgot to pat myself dry. Yes, like that. Never mind though. I am not complaining. I’m in Georgia. I AM IN GEORGIA!!!
Georgia – where they like to eat grits and waffles and biscuits and just about everything else that involves corn or wheat. And Pecan Pie. And anything made with pounds of butter and sugar and immortalized by Paula Deen. None of it *SANE. The upside? Peaches. Georgia peaches. Mmmmmm. And Farmer’s markets that are open for far more of the year than a lot of other places. Packed with stacks of fruits and veggies that are grown during far more of the year than a lot of other places. So in Georgia, you’d get to make this salad all year-long. I made this salad just before I headed south from Seattle. It is an insanely delicious, juicy salad, and sitting here in this heat, I’d really like to be eating some right now.
If I close my eyes – which it’s easy to do after waking up at 3 am – I can still taste the sweet, sweet oranges against the slight bitterness of the spinach. I can still feel the fresh, cool juices sliding around my mouth with each bite, and the zing of the basil. I can still remember the crunch of the fennel and the softness of the tomato flesh. In my mind I can still see how beautiful all the colors looked together in the dappled sunlight of that gorgeous Seattle afternoon. It was bright and sparkling and happy to be alive.
The day I made it, I gently grilled Chicken Sausages to turn this salad into a super simple, super *SANE, Saturday supper. The next day I heaped it on a plate with spoonfuls of Fat-free Cottage Cheese and called it lunch. I sat on a blanket on the lawn in the sunshine while I ate it. It was a perfect Sunday lunch, on a perfect summer day.
If this is a *SANE life, bring it on.
This week I’ll be bringing you a new mini-series, which I have tentatively titled, “How To Eat SANE While Living In A Hotel and Attending A Week-long Sales Conference With 15,000 Other People”. It feels a bit wordy to me – what do you think? At least it makes sense, which my titles almost never do to anyone except me. I’ll noodle on it.
I am certain I up for this *SANE challenge, although typically these events are a free passport to gaining 10 lbs without even thinking about it. No visa required.
But I’m ready. I’m going in.
- 3 large oranges
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 4 large tomatoes
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 TBSP fresh, chopped basil
- 1 tsp. xylitol (I use Xyla)
- 1 tsp. French mustard
- Sea salt and pepper
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach
- Slice off the top and bottom of each orange. Cut the peel and pith from the oranges. Slice the oranges and cut each slice in half. Place in a large sieve over a bowl, to catch the juices.
- Slice the fennel and separate into rings. Cut each ring in half. Add to the sieve with the oranges.
- Slice the tomatoes crossways, discarding the end slices. Cut each slice in half. Place in the sieve and set to one side for 30 minutes to allow all the juices to drain into the bowl below.
- In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped basil, Kyla and French mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk in 2 tbsp of the orange tomato juices that have collected in the bowl beneath the sieve.
- Place the spinach, orange-fennel-tomato mixture, and the dressing in a large bowl and toss gently so as not to bruise the spinach or tear the orange pieces.
- Turn into a serving dish.
- Garnish with fennel fronds and serve.