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.


61 Responses to “Salad of Cara Cara Oranges, Avocado and Feta”

  1. Kathryn

    I hope your family is on the way to full health now; definitely not the ideal way to start the new year but I guess at least it can only get better? You also have the best resolutions of anyone that I’ve seen; I particularly love the one about removing the word ‘should’. Such a small change but so powerful. Best wishes for the new year, may it bring you many life-affirming salads like this one.

  2. shanna mallon

    I love the idea that we’re beginning all the time, even this moment, and that fresh starts can happen any time you want them to. How much we are all made to long for things to be made new.

  3. Kasey

    A beautiful reminder that there are bumps in the road, but there is no wrong time to start fresh. Beautiful, Ashley! Happy New Year. xo

  4. Julie Cyr

    This looks fantastic Ashley. You don’t mind if I make it for lunch tomorrow?! Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us. Happy New Year!!

  5. Serena | Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch

    Such a great reminder that we make the choice to start our New when we choose and the rest is just a date on the calendar. I would love to attend one of your classes, I’m sure they are so much fun! It will have to be added to my bucket list for the year! Happy New Year!

  6. sara forte

    oh i would love to be hanging out and sharing this salad with you and Ivy! Love your list. You are a great woman, Ashley. Can’t wait to see what big things are coming for you in 2014.

  7. Holly Erickson

    Beautiful post. Beautiful salad and beautiful reminders. We started 2014 trying to potty train our (just turned) 3 year old son. I feel like a bad mom and like I’m doing everything wrong. I think he and I will make cookies together when he wakes up from his nap…..that will be our fresh start. Thanks Ashley!

  8. SPBradley

    Thanks so much for sharing your aspirations! Inspired me to have a better perspective! Happy 2014!

  9. joey armstrong

    lovely photos + words. i need to keep an eye out for those oranges, i don’t know if i’ve had them before. oh! and i am beyond excited that my parents’ christmas gift to me was a spot in your workshop. i’m looking forward to it, and to meeting you!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Oh my goodness!! I’m so excited to meet you. It’s going to be great. I’m sure we can find some (cara cara oranges) while we are shopping at the market. See you soon!

  10. Eileen

    This salad sounds just amazing, and so perfect for winter citrus! I haven’t yet eaten a cara cara orange this year, but I know what’s going to happen when I find some… 🙂

  11. Hailey

    YUM! Feta and avocado any day of the week. My go-to lately has been kale with sweet potato, avocado, chickpeas, and feta (along with any other veggie that’s sitting in my fridge) Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad I found your blog!

  12. Sophia

    The one thing that gets me through winter is definitely the abundance of delicious citrus fruits (I have been gorging on pomelos lately while waiting for the sweet Sicilian oranges to hit the markets here in Rome) and I love them both in sweet and savoury salads. Love the avocado-feta-cilantro-sesame combo (even more so as a I know 3 out of 4 of those are currently in my kitchen, meaning I might turn this into tomorrow’s dinner!).
    Also, removing ‘should’ from resolutions sounds like a grand idea, I *will* do the same!

  13. J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

    Love the Cara Cara oranges, bought them at Trader Joe’s and had no idea they were pink inside until I cut one in half. Always make a salad like this on lazy days for dinner but usually with goat cheese instead of feta and with pumpkin or sunflower seeds. So simple but so good.

  14. Laura

    It’s very true that a new starting point or a fresh glance is ours whenever we want it, once we decide that it’s needed. I think the hype of a new year brings the pressure and coaxes “shoulds” out of all of us that wouldn’t cross our minds normally. I’m all for the whole body + mind stretch too. And Cara caras are one of those treats that lifts the winter monotony for me–so wonderfully used in this salad.

  15. Sarah Adler of Simply Real Health

    Ashley, so beautifully written as always. I love your perspective and gentle reminders of the bigger things. Especially in the kitchen. That’s always when it hits me 🙂 One of my New Year nudges is to do a better job at thanking people who have inspired me or encouraged me along the way with my business. And you and Gabe are definately on my list. I took one of your food photography workshops at The Pantry last year around this time, and it has changed me, my business, blog and pictures in such a great way (with a lot of practice of course). So, thank you. So much Seattle love to you both- thank you for sharing your time, gifts, inspiration and words, as selflessly as you do. The best. Happy New Year!

  16. Laura

    Thanks for sharing this story, which serves as an excellent reminder to push through “defeatist thoughts” and open our eyes to a new day. And I can’t wait to use my Cara Caras (my new favorite orange) in this salad!

  17. Laura Dembowski

    Sometimes we all need a fresh start. Your goals are great and ones most of us could work on, myself certainly included. This salad is just the thing to brighten up winter and 2014!

  18. Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens

    Hi Ashley! I soooo needed to find this today. We all have days that begin rough, and I often feel like the whole day (or week, or month, or year) will end up the same way. But … I’m also working really hard this year to realize there is grace in everything. Yes, even in the toughest moments, there is grace. I just need to find it. But it’s there!
    This salad looks phenomenal. I love how fresh and colorful it is! The dressing has me really excited! It looks so delicious! And I’m totally with you on the toasted sesame seeds! 🙂

  19. Zinny | The Vanilla Hub

    Great goals for the new year! Your blog is one of my favourites and definitely one that inspired me to start blogging. It’s honest, it’s genuine, it’s about good food, it’s about life. All the best for the new year and keep up the great work!

  20. Lakshmi Raj

    A good new year start! I liked the recipe.. I have already ordered the ingredients from and buygreenz, waiting to make it a reality for eating.. I wish I just follow it properly and do it well. Thanks for it, it was worth reading.

  21. Emily

    Happy New Year and thank you for this delicious salad recipe! I feel like it has all my favorite flavors in it- citrus, avocado and cilantro, yum! I featured your recipe in my most recent meal plan on my blog.


  22. Emily

    Love, love your goals for the year Ashley! And I love thinking of them as nudgings towards your better self. That really is the way to approach these changes – not with the idea that you are not good enough to begin with, but rather with the idea that you are whole and perfect but can nudge yourself towards something even greater. (Belated) Happy 2014, and I hope your little guy is feeling much, much better!!!

  23. Jenn

    LOVE cara cara oranges. Can never get enough citrus this time of year! Will certainly try this salad at home. Thanks for sharing! Inspired by your photos!

  24. Adam

    Really enjoyed reading your blog. Some really nice dishes and really impressed! Check out my blog as well, Hopefully we can share recipes!


Post a Comment to J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>