One of my favorite places to visit here in the California desert is around the corner from us, a place called The La Quinta Resort. It was built in 1926 in the Spanish hacienda ranch style, which is a favorite of mine with cozy terracotta floored casitas surrounded by mature foliage and citrus trees all tucked back into the base of the mountains.
It became such a landmark that the town of La Quinta was named after it. It is still a charming resort and since it is now run by a large hotel chain, we keep our fingers crossed that they won't modernize it too much and ruin it.
I like to visit because it always has a spectacular show of flowers any time of year. It's like a giant garden, something we don't see all that much here. One of my favorite places there is a restaurant that has a large sunny patio with umbrellas, which surprisingly is a rarity around here as well.
Since our desert is full of citrus this just seems like the perfect California Desert Salad.
Just the other day I was feeling like I needed a vacation, a change of scenery to just get outside and soak up some sunshine. Visiting the resort always feels like a vacation to me. So we went. The grounds were beautiful and the flowers put up a good show, as always. I ordered my salad but perhaps memory is better than reality or they changed it. Sadly, my taste buds were disappointed.
I thought... I can make this better. So that's what I did!
A blend of California classics, mandarin oranges and almonds with the addition of sunflower sprouts, a mix of romaine, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, green onion and mung bean sprouts, with an asian inspired ginger soy dressing sweetened with honey and lime. This time I was not disappointed!
Mandarin Orange Salad
with a Sweet Soy Ginger Dressing
|Mandarin Orange Salad with Sweet Soy Ginger Dressing|
romaine lettuce, chopped finely (optional)
8 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
3 green onions, chopped finely
1/3 cup slivered almonds
I actually buy the first 4 ingredients in bags and mix together in a large ziplock to have ready for salad anytime. It keeps for about a week in the fridge as long as I toss only the amount I need with dressing when ready to eat.
For the salad, take the first four items plus the romaine if using and toss with dressing. Figure about 2-3 cups salad per person for main entree and just enough dressing to coat lightly. The dressing is strong so a little goes a long way. Add the green onions, mandarins, and slivered almonds and toss again before serving. Sprinkle the sunflower sprouts over the top with a few more almonds as well.
Sweet Soy Ginger Dressing
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp grated fresh peeled ginger
3 Tbsp honey or agave
juice of one lime
1/2 cup olive or sesame oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
1/3 cup Nama Shoyu or Tamari (soy sauce)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1/4 cup water
Blend all in a blender until well emulsified. Chill to let flavors marry.
Makes about 2 cups
I hope you give it a try and enjoy!
Ps: all the pictures of the resort are from the La Quinta resort's website.
Sometimes it's best to let the professionals do things.