Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

January 1st didn’t start the way I hoped it would: an early morning visit to urgent care after a sleepless night with my little one in pain still battling a sickness that lasted nearly all of his holiday break. “So this is how 2014 is going to be?” I heard myself thinking. Like a crazed Eeyore I began bracing for a rough year just because the morning didn’t exactly go as I hoped. Luckily, before the defeatist thoughts took root I determined that I get to say when the fresh start begins, not the clock or the calendar. And even if everyday in 2014 needs a bit of a fresh start so be it. We’ll begin again and again and again.

I’d like to credit this fresh outlook to lunch. Cutting into the Cara Cara orange I marveled at it’s soft pink flesh. The tint matches a grapefruit but the taste is much sweeter and reminiscent of tropical fruit. It’s floral, fragrant and because of its differences from the oranges I’ve grown accustomed to it feels special.

Ivy joined me in the kitchen while I assembled the salad. I slid my sharp knife around the curve of the orange to remove the peel and pith while she used her plastic 3 year-old friendly knife to cut the rosy segments into small pieces.

“I love making this salad with you, Mama.” She said while proudly tossing the jagged orange bits into the salad bowl. It’s amazing how quickly a little bump in the day can be smoothed out when I’m able to focus on something simple and good.

I made quick work of the avocado dressing, riffing off of Suzanne Goin’s version in The A.O.C. Cookbook. The creamy and softly green colored dressing tussled with ruffled ribbons of romaine and endive, chunks of avocado, Ivy’s cut segments of orange, crumbled bits of feta and toasted sesame seeds because, why not? At the last minute I remembered the cilantro and lunch was ready as was my fresh start.

With each bite the chaos of the morning became a whispered memory and in its place I found the space to think about the new year. There aren’t weighty aspirations and dreams of great success on this year’s list but rather nudgings towards being a finer tuned me.

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

Become good friends with my journal.

Promote others.

I will not care about the social media numbers.

Feel strong – eat well, exercise, practice radical moderation.

Care less about looking foolish, unwise, unimportant and imperfect.

Stretch – physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively.

The word “should” is kicked out of my vocabulary because it’s not a pang of guilt that motivates but a genuine desire stirred by passion. From that great work is made.

Live grace.


There are more. Some are less vague, others will be hard to measure but that’s okay because I’d rather focus on measuring butter and sugar and just live.

So here’s to fresh starts, whenever they happen, and a very happy, hearty and gracious new year. It’s going to be a good one, friends.

Salad of Cara Cara oranges, avocado, feta // Not Without Salt

* Quick reminder * Gabe and I are teaching a 2-day food photography workshop at Aran’s (Cannelle et Vanille) gorgeous new studio. We’ll shoot around Pike Place, in the studio, enjoy great food together and talk about lighting and editing. There are a few spots left. Snag ’em. Sign up can be found here.



Salad of Cara Cara Oranges, Avocado and Feta

Salad of Cara Cara Oranges, Avocado and Feta

adapted from The A.O.C. Cookbook

serves 4


2 Cara Cara Oranges, peeled and segmented

1 head Romaine washed and cut into thin ribbons

2 heads of Endive (optional) cut into thin ribbons

1 ripe avocado

1 cup crumbled Feta

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)


Avocado Dressing

1 large, ripe Haas avocado

zest and juice from 1 lime

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup olive oil

pinch chile flake



For the dressing:

Combine the avocado, lime zest and juice and water in a blender or food processor. Process until completely smooth. Pour in the olive oil and pulse just to combine as you don’t want to bruise the olive oil or it will taste bitter.

Add a pinch of salt and chile flake. Taste and adjust seasoning.


Combine the clean greens in a bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat. You will have leftover dressing. I like to give the greens a pinch of salt too. Seems strange but I assure you even lettuce perks up with a bit of seasoning.

Add the orange segments, avocado, cilantro and feta. Finish with the sesame seeds, if using.

Serve immediately.

Well covered, extra dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.


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