Fried Citrus Salad + Dressing

Fried lemon zest saladThe new year has got me in the mood to try new salad options! I've been trying to dream up new ways to incorporate some kind of warm element in my salads. Because, baby, it's cold outside! I saw the idea for fried lemon zest in the latest Martha Stewart Living and I thought it would make an excellent salad topper. The result: amazing! Each crunchy bite also offered up a pop of citrus. Plus frying zest makes your whole kitchen smell amazing (unlike most fried food experiments. Ha!). Simply heat a little oil in a pan and add your zest when it's hot. You only need to let it fry for about 30 seconds until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and strain over paper towels to remove excess oil.
Fried citrus saladI used the zest from 2 lemons for this salad. I then used the juice from those lemons for the citrus dressing. Combine lemon juice with 1/4 cup olive oil, a splash of rice vinegar and salt + pepper. I had planned to add poppy seeds but then I found I was out. Oh well, it was still super tasty. Enjoy! xo. Emma

P.S. I would love to add a spicy salad. Does anyone have a recommendation?

  • Oh man what a brilliant idea!!! Amazing!
    For the spicy salad option, try an Asian spicy hot tofu salad. Cut some firm tofu (you can also use chicken for a non veggie option) into bite size squares and marinade in garlic, soy sauce, fresh chillis, lime, a pinch of chilli powder and honey. Fry in some vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve with a cucumber and carrot salad drizzeld with a lime and sesame oil dressing. Top with some sliced spring onions and some crushed peanuts. So yummy!

  • I know that you don’t eat meat, but I love a good, old-fashioned buffalo chicken salad with fresh blue cheese crumbles…maybe find an alternative meat source? Fish, tofu, etc?

  • love this recipe! Btw, do you have instagram? Would love to follow your daily cooking:) (I’m msveveve)

    as for spicy salads, all I can think of is a thai salad (like spicy apple) or spicy corn..

  • yum! Good idea. Thanks for sharing Emma!
    As for a spicy salad, I like a cucumber-wasabi combination.

  • I have an amazing Buffalo Chicken Salad recipe! You have 2-3 boneless chicken breasts. You cook them in a skillet with a little oil until brown on the outside. Then cut them into one inch pieces and cover in hot sauce. Cook again until completely cooked. Let the chicken cool completely before mixing with lettuce. Mix chicken with lettuce of choice and some blue cheese crumbles. I usually serve with ranch but if you find a better dressing, by all means use it!

  • Try making a dressing using Harissa. It’s super spicy and I put it on everything.

  • Hey Emma, this salad looks tasty (after holydays I need to replace some meals with salads) thanks for the recipe!

    Ps: I’ve just had the kitchen smell problem…ehh i’ve made Spanish Tortilla and after that even my hair smelled like french fries (with a little spanish flavor 🙂 )

    xo Diana

  • I love this citrus improvement!:)
    for a spicy twist on salads, usually I use some winter radish (during the winter they’re more spicey than in summer) or I put on some homemade labne (I made my own little jar of labne every 2 months- and after i made the cheese I roll them in a herb&spicy mixture ( zest of 1 lemon, cumin, cayenne pepper,a pinch of salt, pepper, thyme) and then I store them in the jar -covered with olive oil. Another options would be a marinated chicken (or fish, because you’re pescatarian) with lemon juice, honey, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. then mix the meat with a mixed salad made of barley/wild rice/green leaf/almond/roasted pepper-tomatoes-pumpkin.

  • I make a salad that is made of spinach, roasted pears (skin and roast in the oven until they start to brown) pine nuts, advocado, green onion, and chopped up pickled jalepenos. Then for the dressing, blend olive oil, pickled jalepeno, honey, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice. It is always a hit!

  • Yum, spicy salads are so good. Maybe you could make a nice green salad with a spicy tahini dressing. I’d blend together tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and some sambal oelek. If you want a touch of sweetness, you can add honey or sugar 🙂


  • This looks fantastic. We get fresh fruits & veggies sent to us twice a month.

    So, I get to make a kale salad tonight — will try the fried lemon zest!

    And, I agree with Hannah — I love jalapenos!!

  • I’ve never heard of frying the zest…I’m intrigued! Salads are just what I’m craving after the crazy indulgence of chocolate over christmas!

  • nomm sounds delicious! my favourite spicy salad is definitely thai papaya salad with chilies and peanuts.

  • This sounds delicious. When you said spicy salad it made me think of Sriracha. My fiancé is obsessed with that red sauce! He says he loves it because it is a hot sauce with a little flavor in it, not just fire. Perhaps there are dressings that call for a dab of Sriracha? I just put it in a chicken soup as it simmered the other day and it was a nice addition.

  • I’m a super big fan of roasting chickpeas and throwing them on salads… it adds great texture and protein! It’s an easy way to add spice too. Typically I’ll drain + rinse a can of chickpeas, pat them dry, then put them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle w/ olive oil, salt, pepper, some cumin, cayenne and red pepper flakes and roast for 15ish minutes at 400 degrees (being sure to stir them a few times during cooking). Noms.

  • I’m from the southwest, and we love spicy! I’m thinking something with avocados. Maybe an avocado, corn and black bean salad. Chicken would be good too, if you’re feeling like meat that day! Just make a basic vinaigrette and an use chili powder and/or cayenne to flavor it.

    The fried lemon zest sounds amazing! I’m excited to try that out this weekend.

  • This salad looks awesome and healthy! Love how you made the dressing too. We are setting some new years resolutions to be healthier this year and more conscious of what we eat. Love that you are posting about it too!

  • Definitely sold on this one… Although once avocado is involved it is usually a done deal, I can’t resist! lol

    This Lovely Little Day

  • You can’t beat the spice coming from the garden ingredients themselves! I looove me some arugula, and I’m growing a TON in my garden right now (I live in Southern California, and my garden goes CRAZY in the winter, and we end up with more of all kinds of greens than we know what to do with!). Plus, arugula is so nutty and tasty. I never make a salad without it. BUT, Have you ever had nasturtium??? It’s a flower. It’s a common flower you’ve probably seen and would recognize. It’s pretty, usually in shades of yellow or orange with really cool round leaves. The flower is edible and VERY tasty. It’s actually REALLY spicy! You put that in a salad and it will be beautiful and very unique tasting. If Red Velvet ever needs a garden girl, you hit me up! I’m always thinking of posts I would make 🙂

  • Hey Elsie, Hey Emma! How are u guys? First, sorry for my english, i’m really trying to learn it and write better. My name is Aryanne and i’m from Brazil. I visit your blog everyday (since +-2 years ago) but i never made some comment here, then it’s my first (and big) comment.
    I would like to thank you both for bring joy and color for my life. This blog is a huge inspiration for me. Makes me wanna create amazing things/stuffs, and make me see the great side of life in simple things. Make me pay attention in the details, and care about them. You guys imagination and dedication brought a light to my life. I was so boring some years ago, in a depressive mood cause i had lost my grandpa, and i think those kid of things (like your blog) brought some courage to me. To make the things happen, and try to feel me better about my appearance, to take photos of my day-to-day. I also bought a sewing machine, then i’m gonna start to learn how to sew, and keep making those simples things that you guys show me, and make me feel better and more hopeful about life and people.
    Recently i created a very simple blog talking about the things i do (most cooking, photography, makeup), i’ll put the link in my information. But it’snt the point, i just like to say THANKS you girls, you make the difference in my life, and i’m sure in others people life. You must be great people to live together. If I can contribute something in your blog, life, ideas, let me know, right?
    Have a great year, with your family and friends, and of course, with yourself.

  • My mom and I tried our own spicy salad with Pequine Peppers (these guys look tiny but they can pack a whallop!) We put 1 cup of them in a 2 cup canister and filled the rest with white wine vinegar. Let that steep for a while on our windowsill (we live in texas, so it sort of cooked itself and we had to remove it since the vinegar started to smell SPICY). We then took olive oil, mixed in garlic and some crushed red pepper and mixed in the olive oil concotion, and drizled it over fried chicken bits, spinach and romaine lettuce. I don’t like tomatoes, but my mother said the tomatoes toned down the spicy. Wasn’t my best effort at a spicy salad, the vinegar was too strong of spicy and flavor, but it had potential.

    I don’t know if that will help or not.


  • I don’t have a spicy salad yet either, but would love one.

    But for a warm salad, I like sliced portobellos sautéed in raspberry balsamic vinegar. Goes great with chickpeas and pecans over a regular salad. 🙂

  • i love to do a *spicy ginger vinaigrette* for my winter salads.
    just push some ginger and jalapeno through a garlic press, add a light vinegar (such as white wine or champagne), some olive oil, and salt. about 1/3 cup of olive oil to a few a tablespoons of vinegar and everything else to taste.
    tastes great over a hearty winter salad of lettuce greens, dried fruits, and nuts.
    good luck!

  • Though they’re out of season now, adding nasturtiums to a salad adds a peppery, delicious kick. They’re flowers you can grow easily yourself in the spring, bright, colorful, and yummy!

  • That looks delicious! I am going to have to give it a go… For a spicy salad, I would fry cubes of tofu in a little oil and toss in some fresh chili or chili flakes and slices of garlic. A sesame oil-based dressing would go nicely with it.

  • I have been craving salads since the start of the new year-probably all that over indulging I did at Christmas… 🙂

  • Spicy salad idea:

    Create a dressing from olive oil, sriracha, lime zest and juice, cilantro, cumin, cinnamon. I made a similar wing sauce over the holidays and it was amazing and reminded me of Thai food.

    Would be great over lettuce, avocados, and maybe fruit to balance sweet and spicy.


  • Last spicy salad idea, and what I’ve been eating to fool my brain into thinking I had a junk food treat:
    Bake chicken breasts, then cut into chunks. Toss in classic buffalo sauce (butter + Frank’s red hot) and serve on a salad w/ blue cheese crumbles. You don’t really need dressing with the buffalo sauce and cheese.

  • For a spicy salad I recommend a British recipe: Roast carrot salad. It’s warm and spicy.
    Roast carrots (halve them) in olive oil in the oven until nicely roasted, soft. You can roast them with garlic, chilli flakes and I like to add Garam Masala (the Indian spice) which is lovely and warm. You can also roast parsnips with the carrots if you like.
    Place the carrots on top of rocket leaves and crumble feta cheese on top. I also like adding pine nuts. If you want, you can also roast the feta cheese in the oven (for more warm food). Lovely!

  • Gado Gado or Lotek… These are Indonesian salads with spicy peanut sauce drizzled over par boiled veges. Perhaps a better option for the winter months?

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