By Jess O’Toole
Winter salad can be just as refreshing as a summer salad, and even a bit luxurious. For this recipe, any fresh salad greens will do, but red leaf lettuce lends dramatic color paired with slices of pink grapefruit. Fresh herbs like mint and chives contribute bright flavor and marinated fennel is crisp while slightly crunchy. Grapefruit juice, spicy ginger and a little honey make for a zippy vinaigrette that’s sure to wake your taste buds from winter hibernation. Quickly seared scallops are the luxury in this winter salad for two that manages to be light yet satisfying at the same time.
1 tsp. champagne vinegar
A 1-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely grated 1/2 tsp. honey
1 fennel bulb
About half a head of red leaf lettuce, 2 oz.
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1 tbsp. fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
4 Sea Scallops
Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the grapefruit by removing the peel. Cut off the stem end and the base end. Place the grapefruit sitting flat on the counter. Slice the peel away from the flesh, being careful to remove all white pith from the outside. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, slice between the membranes to remove each piece of grapefruit. You’ll need only 6-8 slices to set aside for the salad. Squeeze the juice from the rest of the grapefruit to use in the vinaigrette and discard the leftovers.
Make the vinaigrette. Add the champagne vinegar, ginger, honey and a pinch of sea salt to the grapefruit juice. Pour in vegetable oil gradually while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Taste occasionally until the flavor of the vinaigrette is balanced to your liking — you may use up to 1/4 cup vegetable oil.
Prepare the fennel by slicing off the tops and root base, discarding them. Cut the bulb in half vertically and remove the hard, inedible core. Slice the remaining fennel bulb as thinly as you can, then place the slices in a small bowl with a splash of the vinaigrette. Allow the fennel to soften in the vinaigrette while you prepare the rest of the salad. Cook the scallops. Heat a skillet on medium-high. Once the skillet is warm, add just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom (about 1 tbsp.). Rinse the scallops to get rid of any sand, then pat them very dry with a paper towel and season with sea salt. Once the oil is hot, place the scallops in the skillet. Cook for two minutes until browned, then carefully flip the scallops and cook for a couple minutes more, until browned and just cooked through.
In a medium bowl, combine the sliced fennel, red leaf lettuce, mint, chives and black olives. Whisk the vinaigrette, making sure it is still well emulsified, then pour it over the salad. Taste the salad and season with salt and pepper as needed. Divide the salad amongst two plates and top each with 3-4 sliced grapefruit segments and warm scallops. Serve immediately.