Pixie tangerines, with their perky-sweet flavor profile, are the perfect partner in a green salad, especially when fresh baby spinach is the main event. Grown in Ojai, these tasty tangerines are generally available through May, after being available for most other tangerine varieties.
Dormant baby spinach leaves with a creamy Roquefort dressing bring out the best parts of mandarins. Add strips of fried bacon and the mix becomes salad paradise.
Baby spinach and mandarin salad with blue cheese dressing
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, plus more if needed; see chef’s notes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, Roquefort preferred but not required
1/3 cup crème frache or sour cream
2 slices thick bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
10 cups fresh, clean baby spinach, about 5 1/4 ounces
3 to 4 mandarins, preferably pixies, peeled, sectioned
Chef’s Notes: If you don’t have sherry vinegar, you can substitute unseasoned rice wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. The dressing can be prepared 2 days in advance and stored airtight in the refrigerator; if it gets too thick, stir in a splash of milk.
1. In a small bowl, combine juice, vinegar, salt and garlic; stir to combine. Let the mixture sit long enough for the salt to dissolve, a minute or two. Stir in the olive oil until well blended. Stir in the blue cheese. Stir in the crème frache or sour cream. Put aside
2. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon strips until crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool.
3. Place the spinach and mandarin pieces in a large bowl. Add the dressing little by little, tossing between additions. Add bacon and toss. Taste and add more sherry vinegar if needed. Divide between plates or bowls and serve.