Citrus and Avocado with Lime–Cumin Vinaigrette

Deborah Madison

"In My Kitchen"

“You might think of winter as root dominated, but citrus fruits flourish starting in November with the first Satsumas and go on from there with mandarins of all kinds, small citrus such as kumquats and limequats, more giantific ones like grapefruits and pomelos, then Meyer lemons, various kinds of limes and so forth. Seedless oranges—Navels, Cara Caras, and bloods, are bright and cheerful, their taste is clean and in the case of blood oranges, perfumed. Sliced oranges in an orange caramel sauce is one of my favorite desserts, while oranges with this dressing is one of my favorite winter salads. The avocado has the perfect creamy and contrasting texture (and color) to the fruit. And although it’s not necessary, I like to scatter a few handfuls of thinly sliced Romaine, napa cabbage, or radicchio over the salad for its contrast in texture—and, once again, color.” — Deborah Madison in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated In My Kitchen. 



  • 6 oranges, different varieties preferably seedless
  • 1 large ripe but firm avocado
  • 2 handfuls finely shredded radicchio, Napa cabbage, or Romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts


  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Grated zest of 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 2 scallions, including an inch or so of the greens, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño chile, seeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro


Take a slice off the stem end and flower end of each orange so that the fruit stands straight on a cutting board without wobbling. Using a sharp knife, slice down the sides, cutting just beneath the white pith. (Sometimes it takes a few strokes to get under it.) When you’ve removed most of the pith, hold the orange in your hand and slice off any patches that remain, then slice the fruit into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Do this with all the oranges and put them in a shallow bowl.  (If you wish to include thin slices of kumquats, do so.) Cover and refrigerate the slices until you’re ready to serve.

Make the dressing: pound the garlic in a mortar with a  1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth, after 1/2-minute or so. Add the lime zest, juice, scallions and chile if using. Set aside.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet until aromatic, then turn them out on a plate to cool briefly. Grind them to a powder in a spice grinder. Add them along with the rest of the spices to the mortar, then whisk in the oil and add the cilantro. Taste the dressing on a piece of orange to make sure the balance is right.

Halve the avocado, scoop out the flesh and cut it lengthwise into slices.

Pour the dressing over the oranges then scatter the shredded greens and pistachios over the top. Present the salad like this, but toss it a bit as you serve it so that everything is well mixed.


Adapted from In My Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2017)


4 servings