This salad was adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Inn at Little Washington Cookbook: A Consuming Passion by Patrick O'Connell. He takes a classic Italian combination—oranges, red onions and greens—and gives it a Moroccan twist by adding cinnamon and nutmeg to the vinaigrette. Sounds unusual but it really works, and the flavors are perfect for fall.
O'Connell serves the marinated oranges and onions buffet-style on a platter garnished with watercress. For this version, I omitted the watercress (too hard to find) and served the oranges and onions on a bed of baby spinach instead.
This is a great salad for entertaining because you prepare everything ahead of time. All that's left to do at serving time is put it all together.
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality (recommended: Lucini or Colavita)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, best quality (recommended: Fini or Colavita)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds (try to keep the rounds intact)
- 4 navel oranges
- 7 ounces (about 5 cups) baby spinach
Set oven rack 5-6 inches from top and preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Make vinaigrette by combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl.
Dip onions into vinaigrette, being careful to keep rounds intact, and lay in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil until soft and caramelized, 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
Peel oranges with a sharp knife, carefully removing all of the white membrane. Slice into rounds about 1/4-inch thick, remove any seeds, and place in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour vinaigrette over top and let oranges marinate in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or up to several hours.
To assemble salad, place spinach on large platter or individual plates. Scatter caramelized onions over spinach, and then place marinated oranges on top. Spoon any remaining vinaigrette, little by little, over oranges until salad is adequately dressed.