Brighten up a dreary winter day with a versatile citrus salad.

Winter is the best time for citrus fruits, and the Red Cat is taking full advantage with its citrus salad, comprised of blood and cara cara oranges and topped with fennel, feta, mint and pistachio.

"It's a nice, light, refreshing dish that's perfect for the winter time," says Mike Cooperman, executive chef at the Chelsea restaurant. "The ingredients definitely work well together."

The recipe is easy and straight-forward enough.

The key thing to keep in mind, as with any dish, is to buy the best, freshest ingredients you can find, says the chef.

When picking out your oranges, make sure they're vibrant in color and a little firm. The chef prefers the blood orange variety from Sicily, while the cara cara oranges are typically from California.

"This dish is all about the product," Cooperman says. "It's one of those dishes that you could go to the market and pick the freshest things that are available and stay within those lines of it being a citrus fruit with cheese, nuts mint and fennel."

The chef recommends making the dish as is, but it is open to variation. For instance, if you can't find blood or cara cara oranges, clementines, tangerines or grapefruit would do, or even a few lemon or lime segments. The key is making sure the dish isn't overly sweet.

"You might need to balance with a splash of lemon juice," Cooperman says. "But you want to keep it as pure as possible."

Instead of pistachios, you could also swap in almonds or pine nuts, while the cheese should be "salty and crumbly," like ricotta salata, parmesan or shaved pecorino, Cooperman says. As for the garnish, go for a good EVOO, Maldon salt and Aleppo pepper.

"It's all those little subtle notes that bring a dish together, and in the end it's a really great product," Cooperman says. "What's going to make that dish pop and have a lot of flavor is buying the best possible ingredients that you can."

Blood and cara cara orange salad

Serves four
 
4 cara cara oranges cut into segments
4 blood oranges peeled and sliced seeds removed
1/4 of a small red onion sliced paper thin
1/2 bulb fennel sliced paper thin
4 sprigs of fennel tops, picked from the stem
2 sprigs of mint, stem removed and cut into ribbons
2 oz. feta, crumbled
3 tbsp. toasted pistachios
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt
Aleppo pepper
Arrange the oranges on each plate.
Garnish with red onion, shaved fennel, fennel tops, mint, feta and pistachios.
Finish the dish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, maldon salt and a pinch of Aleppo pepper.