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Winter shrimp salad with oranges, fennel and black olives

Just when I start to feel that winter has nothing sunny or bright to offer, I remember citrus. Winter is its time. The piles of oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes stacked up in supermarkets spark hope for me on raw, gray days. Mother Nature really outdid herself with her brilliant sweet and sour fruits, as the painter Cézanne, for one, knew. I buy myself a big bag of tangerines, easily pull back their dark orange skins, and breathe in the fragrant oils that squirt onto my hands. The aroma of optimism.

I love using citrus in savory preparations. There’s a classic Sicilian winter salad of sliced oranges seasoned with salt, black pepper, good olive oil, and often olives, fresh herbs, and fennel. It’s amazing how salt brings out the flavor in citrus (think of a margarita). I make versions of this salad many times each winter, often to serve after a big fish dinner. Sometimes I include fish in the salad. In Sicily they do, too, usually sardines, herring, or anchovies. I find those strong, oily kinds of seafood a little overpowering. Wanting something sweeter and lighter, I’ve tried quickly seared shrimp and found it to be just the thing–perfect, actually.

Ingredients

1 large head frisée or chicory, torn into small pieces
2 medium fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
2 medium oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds and then into half-moons
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
6 sprigs dill, lightly chopped
8 black olives, pitted and cut in half
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus the grated zest from the entire lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed with the flat of a knife
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
A big pinch of salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined but with the tails left on

Directions

Place the frisée or chicory in a large, shallow salad bowl. Add the fennel, oranges, shallot, dill, and olives. Pour the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add the garlic and 1½ tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and black pepper. Give it a good whisk, pressing down on the garlic to release its flavor.
When you’re ready to serve the salad, season the shrimp with the lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and some black pepper.
Place a large skillet over high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When it’s hot, add the shrimp, spreading it out so it cooks quickly. Sear the pieces on one side, just until they start to turn pink, about a minute. Turn them with tongs and sear their other side, about a minute or so longer, just until tender.
Add the shrimp to the salad. Remove the garlic and pour on the vinaigrette. Toss. Serve right away.

Serves 4
Per serving: 336 calories, 13 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 12 g fiber, 33 g protein

Curves Nutrition Program: Enjoy with 1/3 cup cooked quinoa for lunch or dinner on Phase 1 or 2.

A tip for the weight-conscious cook: Lemon or orange zest is a gift from the citrus world that can liven up your winter cooking freely (meaning it adds virtually no calories). I use citrus zest all the time, in salad dressings, marinades for fish and meat, stews, and sorbets. To get the best flavor from your zest, wash the fruit in warm water to remove any wax or spray. Better yet, choose organic fruit when possible. Dry it off and lightly scrape along the surface with a very fine grater. You want only the colored skin. Try not to dig in hard and pull up any white pith. That’ll make the zest bitter. I add zest both while cooking and at the end as a lively garnish for a finished dish. Roasted chicken, for instance, blossoms when sprinkled with fresh lemon zest when hot out of the oven. The fruit’s flavor really opens up with heat.