I didn't cook with citrus until I started exploring the food of North Africa about 10 years ago. This was triggered by an article in the New York Times Magazine about preserved lemons. I made them immediately and became hooked on Moroccan food, which uses citrus as an ingredient in many dishes. One of the first things I made was this salad featuring oranges, and I’ve returned to it many times since. It also uses preserved lemons, but if you don't have them on hand, it’s still excellent without them. The salad is an especially good complement to rich Moroccan stews and tagines, or any rich meal. Vary the quantities according to number of people and your tastes.
Corfu salad with oranges, red onion and olives
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Splash of red wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- Juice of one garlic clove (use press)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Whisk all ingredients together and set aside. Note: Juice will be expelled when you prepare the oranges. I always just use that juice, whether it adds up to 2 tablespoons or not.
- 4 seedless oranges (Navel or Valencia)
- ½ small red onion
- 18 brined or cured black olives (such as Kalamata, Nicoise or oil-cured Moroccan)
- ¼ preserved lemon rind, diced (optional)
- 12 mint leaves or ¼ cup chopped cilantro or both
- 1 head romaine lettuce, torn (optional)
- Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom. Use a knife to cut off the rind (vs. peel with your hands), including the white pith. This is key to making sure the oranges are not bitter.
- Cut oranges in 1/3-inch slices, then cut those in half.
- Slice the red onion, then cut into half-moons.
- Cut the olives in half.
- Cut the mint leaves into thin ribbons and/or chop the cilantro.
- Tear the lettuce into medium pieces; wash and dry.
- Toss the lettuce in some of the dressing, then place on a platter.
- Arrange the oranges in overlapping slices on top of the lettuce. Place the onion, preserved lemon and olives on top of the oranges. Drizzle all with the remainder of the dressing. Sprinkle the mint or cilantro on top and serve.
- Alternatively, toss all the ingredients -- oranges through mint or cilantro -- together with the remaining dressing and place on top of the lettuce.
Note: the lettuce is my addition. Authentic North African salads of this type do not include it, but I think it adds great texture and flavor. If you do not use lettuce, increase all other ingredients except the dressing.