This salad is stupidly delicious.
At least once every winter, I cook a lamb tagine with prunes from Claudia Roden’s œuvre (which is actually a revision of an earlier œuvre) The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, and serve this salad with it. I once even made pita bread from scratch, and I count watching those rounds inflate in the oven among the most satisfying home cooking moments of my life.
I am going to get around to the tagine in the next several days, but in the meantime here’s the salad.
Aside from the oranges, this is a pantry salad. You probably already have the spices, garlic, and olives on hand. Heck, you may also have the oranges. You can use whatever variety you like, or a mix. Blood oranges add beautiful color.
La Roden calls for argan oil, a Moroccan specialty, but Wikipedia tells me that this is one of the rarest oils in the world, and that the Argan tree is endangered and under the protection of UNESCO.
So that seems unlikely.
She lists hazelnut, walnut, and sesame oil as acceptable substitutions. To those I would add the toasted almond oil from J. LeBlanc, which is the only nut oil I have on hand at the moment. If you don’t have any nut oils at all, rest assured that olive oil will taste just fine.
The salad is a refreshing accompaniment to spicy stews, tagines, or roasts. You’ll need to serve it in bowls because it’s quite juicy. Warm pita bread, homemade or not, would be welcome.
Orange and Olive Salad
Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (Knopf)
about 1 t lemon juice
2 T oil (almond, walnut, hazelnut, sesame or olive)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t paprika
12-15 oil cured black olives
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off of each orange so that it has a flat base to sit on. Working your way around the orange, cut off the peel and pith, going top to bottom with your knife. Using the membrane that divide the fruit as as your guide, carefully cut out clean sections. (The resulting slices are called “supremes” by the way.)
2. Put the orange slices in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and lemon if necessary, and then serve at once.