I have spent the last six years haunted by a salad. I make it every winter, just when citrus is at its best and feels like a necessity in combating Seattle’s gray. I’ll make slight variations through March as different citrus varieties make their appearance. By summer, it is dead to me, perhaps even forgotten, but then it reappears, credited to a different food celebrity, which is where things get weird.

Taste

More

The basic idea: Shred radishes and drizzle with sweetened lemon juice; combine with supremed orange slices. Under the name Shlada Dyal Fejjel ou Lichine, it’s ostensibly Moroccan, or so claimed James Beard in at least three cookbooks (“Beard on Food,” from 1974; a 1976 promotional cookbook for a cigarette brand; and “The New James Beard” from 1981), as did Paula Wolfert in “The Food of Morocco” (2011). In “Vegetarian India” from 2015, Madhur Jaffrey named it Narangi aur lal mooli ka salaad, and suggested experimenting with every radish cultivar in existence. Last winter, it popped up in Emily Nunn’s excellent “Department of Salad” substack newsletter, where it’s credited to both Beard and Alice Waters. Ellie Krieger has a version, and I am confident that more will drop into my lap before snap pea season arrives in Seattle. Of course people riff on something this easy and good.

Variations add black pepper (Beard and Jaffrey), cinnamon and orange flower water (Wolfert) or cumin (Jaffrey); mint and watercress are suggested for those who demand a bit of greenery. Beard’s original essay emphasized plating, writing, “Here’s where you can give your artistic instincts free rein,” suggesting a citrus wreath wrapped around a heap of radish, or draping radishes on the citrus in a way that reminds me of my dad’s gaudier 1970s neckties. I prefer mixing the oranges and radishes once they’re on my fork, so each bite is precisely balanced, but you do you. 

The smokiness of pepper and cumin isn’t what I want in a midwinter salad; it’s also the wrong season for homegrown mint. Cinnamon’s sweetness is lovely, as is orange flower water, if you have it. Thinking about the supposed Moroccan roots, I added a favorite ingredient from local company Villa Jerada, and grated some dried lime into the dressing, and it’s a hit. If you make the dressing right before serving, the lime is savory; if you make it a day or two ahead, it converts to a gorgeously fresh pop of lime goodness with none of the bitterness that lime zest can sometimes add.

If you have a favorite citrus, use it. I love Melogold grapefruit, Cara Caras and any tangerine in existence, but basic oranges also are fine. The few components can be prepped and stored separately in the fridge for about a week, so it’s a terrific addition to the batch cooking repertoire. It plays nicely alongside anything from fish tacos to goat biryani to lamb tagine to macaroni and cheese.

Advertising

Orange Radish Salad
Serves 2
Don’t dress the radishes in advance; they lose their crispness within an hour of dressing. If you need a walk-through on citrus supreming, Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma have useful videos, while Martha Stewart has a text-and-image page.

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon finely grated, dried lime
Small pinch cinnamon
Small pinch salt
1 bunch radishes (about ¼ pound), coarsely shredded
2 medium oranges, supremed

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, dried lime, cinnamon and salt until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until just before serving. When ready to eat, toss the dressing with grated radishes (you might not need all of it). Combine dressed radishes with orange segments in a salad bowl or on individual plates. Serve immediately.