With the weather warming and spring in full bloom, citrus season is coming to a close. Still, you might find some of the best fruit in the market stands now. “As the season evolves and begins to end, the citrus is just sweeter and juicier,” says Mercedes Rojas, chef de cuisine at Lucques Restaurant in Los Angeles. Every year, the restaurant features a citrus salad on the menu, pulling produce and inspiration from local farmers including Peter Schaner of Schaner Farms and Laura Ramirez of JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch. “This year, we were particularly in love with Laura’s Valentine pumello,” says Rojas, and the salad is named in her honor.
The salad is a vibrant assortment of citrus, ranging from deep red blood and sweet navel oranges to white oro blanco grapefruit, tangelos, mandalos, pummelos and kumquats, each carefully cut into segments or pinwheels and arranged on a plate. Peppery arugula leaves and thick slices of Montealva cheese are tucked in with the citrus, the Spanish goat cheese lending creamy richness and a nice tang. Building on the Spanish influence, diced black olives and crushed Marcona almonds are sprinkled over the salad, which is finished with a quick citrus vinaigrette and a dusting of fleur de sel. Simple, and a perfect way to show off the best that the citrus season has to offer.