This recipe comes from one of my favorite chefs, Suzanne Goin, at whose restaurant Lucques in West Hollywood my husband proposed to me almost four years ago. But this salad isn’t just sentimental, it’s spectacular. I love how the saltiness of the cured black olives and ricotta salata (a firm, dried and salted version of traditional whey ricotta) balance with the fresh mint, orange segments and citrusy dressing. The original recipe calls for 4 large oranges (to serve six) but I’m not wild about too much fruit in a savory salad, so I scale back to two. When blood oranges are in season, all the better. I make this salad when I want to wow at a dinner party, or I’ll throw together an individual-sized portion for lunch. I feel virtuous saying “I’m having a salad for lunch,” but also a little bit smug when I take a bite.
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1 teaspoon orange-flower water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 medium)
2 large oranges
1 5-ounce package arugula (about 10 cups packed)
1 cup fresh mint leaves (from about 2 bunches)
1/2 cup thinly sliced pitted oil-cured black olives
1 5-ounce piece ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta cheese), cut into 1 1/2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick slices
To make the dressing whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.
To prepare the salad place onion in large bowl. Add 1/3 of dressing; toss. Let marinate 20 minutes.
Cut off peel and pith from oranges. Cut each orange crosswise into 8 slices.
Add arugula, mint, and olives to bowl with onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Add remaining dressing; toss. Divide salad among 6 plates. Tuck orange slices and ricotta salata slices into salads.