I found inspiration for this dish from about 7 years ago when I was having a barbecue dinner with two of my good friends over a long weekend. They were vegan, so at that time when I was far, far away from any vegan tendencies, it was always an adventure dining with them. This was no exception, as I watched them grilling halved romaine hearts, fire licking at the mellow green leaves. When the romaine was plated with a flourish of extra virgin olive oil and grapefruit, my first thought may be like yours now: not exactly "Yum." But it smelled good, and they had never steered me wrong, so fork and knife in hand, I set aside my doubts and dove in.
And I was so glad that I did.
The romaine was warm, but sweet, refreshing, and still slightly crisp, with wonderfully caramelized and smokey savory notes melting into my my palate. And the cold grapefruit pulp bursting with sweet, playful tartness layered onto the creaminess of the olive oil made my eyes widen with delicious surprise, the interplay of the flavor worlds like an Argentine tango. "Yum" was definitely not the word - it was well beyond that.
So with this recipe for this simple Summer salad featuring baby bok choy and blood oranges, I hope to create that same discovery of yum-surpassing deliciousness for you.
|Beautiful mise as my muse.|
Seared Baby Bok Choy with Garlic Chips and Blood Oranges
Gluten-Free & Vegan
Active Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: None
Cooking Time: 2-3 minutes per bok choy half
Yield: Serves 2-4
2 baby bok choy, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil, for frying garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
blood orange supremes, to garnish
Blood Orange Citronette
Gluten-Free & Vegan
Active Prep Time: less than 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: none
Yield: roughly 1/3 cup finished dressing
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons shallot, finely minced
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave
2 tablespoons light oil (sunflower, grape seed, or a fruity evoo)
What you need: medium-sized non-stick skillet or pan with lid, chef knife, cutting board, smaller serrated knife, bowl, whisk or hand blender
1. Choose bok choy that are roughly the same size. Using your chef knife, slice lengthwise and then, to trim, remove the toughest portion of the stem by cutting a triangle sized wedge at the bottom of each half. (see picture below)2. Using the smaller serrated knife, cut blood orange into supremes by slicing the top and bottom of the orange off and then slicing the skin and all the pith away from top to bottom so you can clearly see the membranes separating the segments. This can be messy, so have a plate or bowl underneath to capture the juices so you can have it to make the citronette. Carefully slice on the inside of each membrane to extract the segments/supremes.
3. Heat oil over medium heat and then fry the garlic slices until a light golden brown. After removing from oil, they will continue to darken, so if you'd like to err on anything, remove them sooner so they don't overcook and become bitter - not so yummy. Drain any remaining oil in pan and set aside.
4. Raise heat slightly. Brush garlic-infused oil onto the cut side of the bok choy halves, season with salt and pepper and then place cut side down on the hot pan. You want it to be hot enough that it will sizzle softly when the bok choy makes contact.
5. Allow to sear uncovered for about a minute so the cut side begins to caramelize and lightly char, and then cover to to allow the steam to help cook through the rest of the bok choy. You don't want it to be soft and limp, but at the same time you don't want it to be too crisp. This usually takes 1-2 minutes.
6. To make the citronette, combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl and blend with a whisk or hand blender until well incorporated. Gradually drip oil into mixture while whisking/blending to emulsify oil, bringing the color from a clear pink-red to a creamy pink. Definitely can be made ahead of time.
7. Serve bok choy halves warm, face up, drizzled with the citronette and garnished with the garlic chips, blood orange supremes, and fresh herbs if you like.
|Cutting away the toughest part of the stem.|
|Now you can see the supremes clearly. Check out the color!|
|Growing greener as it steams.|
|Making the citronette.|
I love the dynamics between hot/cold, sweet/savory, conventional/non-conventional, East/West. And at the heart of it, it is so simple - ingredient and flavor focused whole food goodness. And if you wanted to lift this another notch, why not put those boy choy halves on the grill? I don't have one myself, but if I did, trust me that I would. With Summer just around the corner, who wants to be creating more heat in the kitchen when it's already hot outside? And as I know that we are on the final edges of blood orange season, feel free to substitute other citrus, like grapefruit or orange. But if you can catch a blood orange before they fade away until next season, I strongly suggest it. Blood oranges are my favorite.
Please have a safe and happy Memorial Day, and may Love and Light continually lead you in the direction of your Bliss.