Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Arugula, Orange and Fiery Pumpkin Seed Salad

I love salads in the summer, but this particular one just shouts fall. When you start to find juicy oranges at the market, when arugula beats out mesclun and when hot gingery seeds provide that grounding effect we all seek this time of year. It tastes like red maple leaves fallen on a dirt road. Well, (thankfully) not literally.

The dressing is light and sweet with bursts of lemon zest and cilantro, while the greens are a bit spicy, bitter and in your face. I think it is important to strive for some opposites along with some compliments in a dish that combines so many individual ingredients. The orange segments offer a nice juice-factor, but a ripe pear would also compliment with the pumpkin seeds nicely. 

Pumpkin seeds are high in the mineral magnesium, which acts as a natural relaxant in our system. Particularly good for those of us with high blood pressure, heart disease or muscle cramps, magnesium works in conjunction with sodium and potassium to ensure flexible, hydrated cells.  I like to use them in granola and seeded breads as well as salad toppers.

Arugula, Orange and Fiery Pumpkin Seed Salad
Serves 8

1 lb. arugula (or for a less intense salad, use 1/2 lb arugula and 1/2 pound mesclun)
2 oranges
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tbs. tamari
1 tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
a pinch of cayenne

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. mellow miso
1 tsp. maple syrup
stems from 1 bunch of cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more as needed


Cut rind off both oranges and slice each into 8 pieces. Cut each slice in half.

Heat a medium heavy bottom (I like cast-iron) pan over medium heat. Toss in pumpkin seeds, and stir until beginning to brown and becoming fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add tamari, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute or so, until liquid is evaporated, and remove from heat.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender. Season to taste with salt. 

To assemble the salad, toss the arugula with 1/2 cup of salad dressing. Test and add more dressing to reach desired taste. Place salad in individual bowls, top with orange segments and pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.

Relax. Eat Well.

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