The sun peeks out from behind the clouds and I can’t help but get in the spirit of celebration of a new season. It’s time to set aside the stew pot and rev up the salad spinner. I don’t know if this happens for everyone at the turn of each season, but every fall I am excited to pull on my jeans and sweater and start making soups for dinner. Now it is March and I am ready for dresses, T-shirts and salads!
As earth leans towards our shining star, days become longer and brighter, our brain tunes in and our bodies get perfectly in sync with the natural environment we live in. It stops producing so much melatonin (guilty of promoting sleep) to enjoy that extra time in the sun; it has plans for us.
People smile a lot more—serotonin working—and Facebook and Instagram get loaded with tons of beautiful natural scenery from around the world. Our adventurer side is ready to rid of winter. The more serotonin our brain orders into the system, the more social we become. We are more eager to go out and make new friends or meet someone special.
As it’s warmer, we feel better outside breathing fresh air and taking in the amazing show of blossoming nature. We dust the grill off and invite the neighbors for casual weekday BBQs as excitement builds in anticipation for the new seasonal produce to show up on our dinner tables.
I love living in an area of the country where you can fully experience each and every season, and just when you are about to get tired of it, newness comes with the next season. So, let’s embrace it, invite friends over for dinner, try a new recipe and eat dinner “al fresco”!
Last spring, I tried featured salad (recipe below), Spanish Red Onion and Oranges, for the first time. The unexpected combination of flavors is amazing: tart oranges, spicy onions, bold olives, crunchy walnuts and sweet raisins make this salad a show stopper. This colorful and refreshing orange salad, made by my sweet friend from www.thefarmchicks.com, was one of the biggest hits at one of our Spanish themed dinners, with nearly all the dinner guests asking for the recipe!
Spanish Red Onion and Orange Salad
• 4 ripe medium oranges, peeled
• 1 small red onion, sliced
• 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
• 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
• Sea salt and black pepper to taste
• 3 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, then drained
• 15 to 20 black olives, pitted
• 2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
• 2 tablespoons blanched almonds
• Fresh parsley and mint, chopped
1. Remove pith from oranges and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange on a serving platter and scatter sliced red onion on top.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Spoon over the onion and oranges.
3. Sprinkle with raisins, olives, chopped walnuts, and almonds. Garnish with parsley and mint. Serve chilled.