- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Salad isn’t just a hot-weather food. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the soups, stews and chilis that grace our tables when the weather turns chilly and bleak.

As the soups, stews and chilis become heartier, the salad can become spunkier, so it can all be well-accompanied by some good, sturdy, crusty bread (or freshly baked corn bread) and a large red wine. All the better to keep us lively on the inside while the cold rain comes down on the outside.

Arugula is my favorite fall salad green. Precisely because it is so peppery and intensely flavored, it works best when combined with softer, sweeter salad greens, like butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce.

Arugula salad with orange vinaigrette

1 medium-sized head butter (Boston) lettuce, cleaned and spun dry

1 medium-sized head red leaf lettuce, cleansed and spun dry

1 small bunch arugula, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)

10 radishes, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons minced chives (or 1 scallion, finely minced, whites and as much of the greens as seems reasonable)

Orange vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Freshly ground black pepper

Nicoise olives (optional)

1 orange peeled, seeded and sectioned (optional)

Break the lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium-large bowl. Add the arugula, radishes and chives or scallions and toss until well combined.

Shake the jar of dressing, then drizzle about 1/4 cup of the dressing into the salad. Grind in some black pepper and toss well from the bottom, so that everything gets evenly coated. Drizzle in small amounts of additional dressing, as needed, tossing after each addition until the salad is as dressed as you like it.

Serve immediately, garnished with Nicoise olives and a scattering of fresh orange sections, if desired. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

cup orange juice

4 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar

2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon salt

Combine everything in a lidded jar, cover and shake well. Shake again before each use.

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