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Winter citrus salad

This is a favorite winter salad here at The Cook's Atelier. It is perfect when it's cold outside, but you are craving a little taste of spring. It's been chilly here in Beaune and we're working by the fire planning this year's programs. We've got some excited projects in the works and we can hardly wait to share them with you.

It's that time of year when we are dreaming about the plans for this year's potager and counting the days until spring arrives. As much as we adore the rustic, peasant-style dishes of winter, we're looking forward to dining alfresco, tender baby peas topped with French butter and fresh strawberries picked and eaten right in the garden. Fennel is a winter staple in the kitchen at The Cook's Atelier and is perfect when sliced thin and paired with blood oranges and French garden radishes, drizzled with olive oil, and simply finished with a grind of fresh pepper and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Depending on what looks good at the market, we also might add beets or pomegranate seeds. This salad takes on many different variations here in our kitchen.  It' a beautiful salad that is bright and cheerful - perfect as we countdown the days until spring.

Winter Citrus Salad with Fennel and Garden Radishes

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 medium red beet, top trimmed (optional)
1 medium golden beet, top trimmed (optional)
2 blood oranges, supremed
1 medium navel orange, supremed
1 fennel bulb, sliced very thin using a mandoline
1/2 bunch of radishes, sliced very thin using a mandoline
1 small shallot, sliced very thin using a mandoline
a handful of watercress leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh chervil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the beets. Wrap individually in foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Let cool.

To supreme the oranges: Using a sharp knife, cut the stem and blossom ends from the blood and navel oranges. Place the oranges cut side down. Following the contour of the fruit, working from top to bottom with your knife, remove the peel and white pith. Over a bowl, cut along each side of the membrane to separate the segments.

Quarter the fennel bulbs lengthwise, using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut lengthwise into thin slices. Set aside. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the radishes into thin slices.
Slice the beets crosswise into thin rounds.

Arrange sliced beets in the center of the plate. Toss the fennel, radishes, shallot and watercress in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of the orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fennel and radishes over the beets and place the blood orange and naval orange segments in and around the salad. Garnish with chervil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.