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Salads, Vegetarian

Hermitage Ranch salad

When I first moved to Ojai nearly 14 years ago, it wasn't for the food. I came for the scenery, the air, the good schools and a quieter place to raise my small children. Though I missed the myriad choices ... Read more

Total time: 20 minutes | Serves 8


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt, pepper

Step 1Combine the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, zest, honey and salt and pepper to taste in a blender and process for a few seconds, or whisk everything together in a bowl.


  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 8 cups watercress sprigs, loosely packed
  • 8 cups torn hearts of butter lettuce
  • 4 to 5 pixie tangerines or Satsuma mandarins
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 2 small Hass avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, if needed
  • 5 to 6 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Step 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Set them aside.

Step 2Watercress can be muddy, so wash it thoroughly, then tear the small sprigs from the branches, discarding the heavy stems. Spin it in a salad spinner to dry. Rinse and tear the butter lettuce and spin dry.

Step 3Peel the tangerines, remove all the white pith and separate the sections. Slice the peel off the grapefruit and separate the sections, removing the membranes. Peel the avocados and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Unless you are cutting the avocados at the last moment, sprinkle a little lemon juice on them and cover them.

Step 4Combine the watercress, lettuce, tangerines, grapefruit, avocado and crumbled cheese in a large salad bowl and toss together with your hands. Add most of the dressing and continue lifting and turning very gently until everything is evenly bathed, then taste and add a bit more dressing only if it's needed. Arrange the salad on individual plates and sprinkle the toasted walnut pieces on top.

Note: The brilliant, peppery taste of fresh watercress is offset by the buttery richness of Hass avocados and sweet pixie tangerines. A little cheese and some toasted walnuts give this salad an elegant finish. If you want to make it even more luxurious, substitute lightly pralined walnuts for plain, toasted ones. When pixie tangerines are not in season, substitute one or two sweet oranges, separating them into peeled sections.
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