A simple salad for spring

April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

A ate a simple and delicious little salad for lunch last week in Paris, sitting outdoors in the spring sunshine, just off the the Champs Elysées. It was described on the menu as a “Salade Farandole” or merry-go-round salad, presumably because of the wheel shaped arrangement of the leaves.

The ingredients were chicory leaves, orange segments, strips of smoked duck breast, walnuts and a few spinach leaves together with just the right amount of a citrussy dressing.

It was such a good combination – crisp, bitter leaves, sweet orange, salty duck, crunchy walnuts – that I decided to recreate my own version at home. The Parisian version included some wafer thin slices of what might have been wet walnuts, unlikely at this time of year I know. I didn’t get the opportunity to ask the waiter to ask the chef what this mystery ingredient was. Back home, I remembered that I had a jar of inky-black pickled walnuts at the back of the fridge so I fished one out, sliced it as thinly as I could and added this to my salad for an extra flavour and texture.

Smoked duck isn’t that easy to get hold of, but locally the excellent Smokehouse in Wilmslow prepare their own smoked duck breasts and you can buy them ready sliced from Waitrose or Ocado in the “Reflets de France” range. Talking of Ocado, I’ve being going a bit crazy with their new range of Natoora specialist fruit, veg and deli products so I happened to have a bag of Sicilian blood oranges in my fridge which make a visually appealing addition and taste extra sweet:

It made a lovely light lunch and the slightly bitter chicory combined with the orange were a perfect antidote to all that Easter chocolate. I was so pleased with my little salad that I made it again the next day, this time with some red Treviso radicchio I happened to have left over (I’m going through a bit of a bitter leaf phase at the moment) and with pistachios rather than walnuts as that’s all I had left in my cupboard. There’s no need to be too prescriptive about the ingredients as it’s a salad you can make your own. I hope you enjoy it.

Recipe for chicory, orange and smoked duck salad

Serves 2


For the salad

2 medium heads chicory (white, red or a mixture of both)
2 and a half oranges, peeled and cut into pith-free segments
2 pickled walnuts, thinly sliced
handful walnut halves, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1 smoked duck breast, cut into the thinnest slices you can manage, fat removed if you prefer
handful baby spinach leaves

For the dressing

juice of the remaining half orange
2 tablespoons walnut oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
few snipped chives, torn mint leaves or other soft green herbs (optional)

Wash and dry the chicory heads. Cut of the base and pick off the larger outer leaves carefully. Arrange in an attractive wheel shape on your serving platter or in individual salad bowls as you prefer. Chop roughly the remaining centre part of the chicory, combine with the spinach leaves and pile in the centre.

Scatter over the salad the orange segments, pickled walnuts, chopped toasted walnuts and strips of smoked duck breast.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad shortly before serving.

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