Taste of spring cuisine in late winter
Special to The Washington Post
I love the combination of orange, cucumber and avocado, especially late in the winter when I start to tire of the taste of soft, long-cooked meats, root vegetables and fruits like apples and pears.
My taste buds are longing for spring, and I need some bright flavors and textures. Oranges, readily available this time of year, provide the fast flavor burst; avocado gives balance; cucumbers give me the crunch I’m looking for.
In the past I’ve always added seafood to the mix to turn a simple side salad into an appetizer or a light lunch, and lately I’ve used poached salmon. It takes under 15 minutes to prepare and offers me an alternative to baked fish during the months I can’t grill.
This salad depends on fresh flavors, so I want herbs in the mix as well. I’ve chosen parsley, a wonderfully assertive herb that is too often relegated to the status of garnish. Parsley is readily available in two varieties: curly leaf and flat Italian. In cooking school we were taught to use the curly variety as a garnish and the flat version for flavor, but I’ve never really followed that prescription. I like the strong parsley taste the curly leaf carries, so that’s the one I choose.
Salmon Salad With Orange, Cucumber and Avocado
11⁄8 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 pound skin-on salmon fillets, cut into 2 pieces
Zest of 2 oranges
3 large navel oranges, peeled and cut into segments and any accumulated juice (see NOTE)
1 medium (6-ounce) cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1 avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
In a medium pot, add enough water to come 4 inches up the side of the pot. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the vinegar and bring the water to a boil. Slip in the salmon fillets and adjust heat so the water just barely maintains a very slight boil. Cook until the salmon is done through, 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. When the salmon is done, transfer to plate to cool for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine half of the orange zest, the orange segments and any reserved juice, the cucumber, avocado, vinegar, oil, pepper, the remaining 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Stir to combine. Remove the skin from the cooked salmon and scrape any gray material off the salmon fillets. Gently break the salmon into pieces and add to the salad. Stir gently to combine. Transfer the salad to a serving dish, top with remaining parsley and orange zest. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a day. If you refrigerate it, stir gently and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
NOTE: To segment an orange or grapefruit, slice off the bottom and the top. Stand the fruit on a cutting board with one of the cut sides down. Using a serrated knife cut the peel and the pith away from the fruit top to bottom. Then, holding the fruit in your hand cut the orange segments out from the membrane. (The idea is to leave behind all of the membrane and white pith.)
NUTRITION Per serving: 370 calories, 24 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 58 mg cholesterol, 827 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar.