Bailey’s Citrus & Avocado Salad with Burrata

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My older sister, Bailey, and I are only 17 months apart. We grew up really close, sharing a room, bunkbeds, friends, soccer teams, trips, a lifetime of memories. We were always together, playing tag with friends on our street, throwing stuffed animals back and forth across the room on Christmas Eve night when we were too excited to sleep, driving around and around the neighborhood blasting our favorite songs, sharing every secret. She’s someone who laughs a lot, who brings the party wherever she goes, who lives in the moment and feels all her feelings strongly, whether it’s “dying” because she loves a certain food so much, hating someone for some social faux pas like singing opera in public (that Irish grudge-holding gene is strong), or crying because someone cut her hair too short (as you do).

When I was really small, she used to speak for me. I was shy as a young child and, as the outgoing older sister, Bailey became my voice. Of course, we didn’t always get along—she infamously once ripped Emma’s JoBros poster in half as she chased me up the stairs to yell at me after I’d allegedly let her bike fall on the ground—but for the most part our childhood was spent in amiable cahoots. She’s always been a pillar of support in my life, propping me up and making me feel like what I do is exciting.

It’s become a joke recently that she truly is my biggest fan; the thing is, it’s not really a joke, or it’s at least true when it comes to First to the Table. She’s my hype woman, exclaiming over each recipe and texting to tell me that I better save her a brownie, cookie, slice of pie, whatever it is I’ve just posted—or else!—and promoting the blog to anyone who will listen. Cooking-wise, she’s usually stuck to faster and simpler recipes than I have (although I’m much more on her level now that I have a toddler), and some of her suggestions, most of which seem to include burrata, have been fantastic. Her version of this salad included frisée, radicchio, and pistachios, which were great but, for me, the greens overpowered the quiet burrata, which I wanted to shine. So I stripped away the bitter greens (sorry, body) and made the focus the citrus, avocado, and burrata, then added toasted, salted pumpkin seeds and Bailey’s suggested citrus-pickled shallots as supporting actors. It’s a wonderful salad on its own or as an accompaniment to something light like roasted chicken. And feel free to add half a head of frisée or other bitter greens back into the mix!

Note: you can use any combination of citrus you desire; try several types and see which are your favorite! Grapefruits and pummelos lean towards the bitter side of the citrus family, so if you use those make sure you balance them out with a couple of sweet citrus fruits as well (like Cara-Caras or tangerines).

Bailey’s Citrus & Avocado Salad with Burrata

serves 4-5

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
⅛ tsp fine sea salt

1 small shallot, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon

1 medium pummelo
1 Cara-Cara orange
1 blood orange
1 tangerine
1 avocado
1 ball of fresh burrata
olive oil, for drizzling

First, make the salted pumpkin seeds. Heat ½ cup pumpkin seeds and 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often until the pumpkin seeds start to brown and pop. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with ⅛ tsp fine sea salt. Let cool, then taste and add more salt as needed. (This will make more than you’ll likely need—eat these pumpkin seeds on eggs, another salad, or anything else.)

Toss the thinly sliced shallot with the lemon juice in a small bowl and let soak while you prep the rest of the salad.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the citrus (reserve those off-cuts!), then slice downwards from one cut end to the other, curving your knife around the fruit so that you remove just the rind and white pith (removing as little actual fruit as possible). Slice each piece of citrus in half vertically and thinly slice each half horizontally so you end up with half moons. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and peel the skin off. Slice each half into wedges.

Assemble the salad: this is not an exact art, rather a beautiful mess. On a large plate or platter, arrange the citrus pieces, avocado, and shallot so you’ll get a mix of everything in each spoonful. Squeeze the juice from the citrus tops and bottoms over everything. Tear the burrata into pieces and arrange evenly across the plate. Sprinkle with a generous drizzle of olive oil, a few tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, and plenty of flaky sea salt. Enjoy!

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