Monday, February 21, 2011

Moroccan Blood Orange Salad with Black Olives

It’s snowing again. Again! Sadly it’s too soon for another cassoulet, so I chose a different tack and decided to prepare some Moroccan food, which never fails to bring sun and warmth to mind.

Vegetables haven’t traditionally been a major part of the southern Berber diet, but in Fez and Meknes, and along the coast, they have a rich history. Salads there are usually served at the start of the meal, and, as Paula Wolfert observed, they tend to more closely resemble Italian antipasti platters both in form and in function than the dressed green salads we serve in the States. Moroccan salads can be savory or sweet and feature meat as well as fruits and vegetables. It is common to see several served at a time, and I especially like when they are left on the table throughout the meal as a refreshing, sometimes spicy counterpoint to a tagine.

I imagine this particular salad might have originated around the famous citrus groves of Fez or Agadir. It’s a favorite of mine – I can’t resist the colors. Plus there’s something comforting about slices of orange arranged on a platter that reminds me of my mother’s dinner parties in the eighties (when they were usually drizzled with raspberry purée for dessert).

Citrus and olives are a classic flavor combination throughout the Mediterranean, and I love them here with the added earthiness and heat of the spices. The whole is balanced in a lightly garlic-flecked dressing that brings out the best in the herbal parsley. You can add a small amount of cinnamon to the dressing, but there’s so often cinnamon in tagine that I like this vinaigrette “clean.” You can also mix up the citrus, maybe blending sour oranges like bergamots or Sevilles with the sweet, or adding fresh or preserved lemons. And when blood oranges are in season – they seem to be everywhere in New York right now – I relish the chance to use them.

Whichever version you prefer, it works nicely as part of a salad course alongside a twangy cucumber salad and maybe some slivered radishes in orange blossom water or spiced fava beans. The spiced oranges pair well with many tagines, including my kdra style Chicken, Carrot & Chickpea Tagine and my Beef Tagine with Olives & Dates. But even enjoyed alone as a simple lunch, along with perhaps some grilled flatbread and a nice piece of sheep’s milk cheese, this dish packs a punch against the gray endlessness of February.

Serves 6 - 8 as part of a larger meal or 2 - 3 as a light lunch with flatbread and cheese

3 lbs blood oranges, navel oranges, or other mixed citrus
1 cup black oil-cured olives, pitted
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
½ tsp paprika
pinch of cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
pinch of granulated sugar
kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Small handful of flat leaf parsley (or more if preferred), torn or roughly chopped

Slice the ends off of the oranges and then use a knife to cut off the rest of the skin from top to bottom in sections. Turn the oranges on their sides and gently slice into disks across their equators. Arrange on a platter with the olives.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and sugar. Season with salt to taste and then whisk in about twice as much olive oil as there is lemon juice. Check the seasoning with a little more salt if necessary and then drizzle as much over the oranges and olives as you like. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve immediately.


Sylvia said...

Is a gray day here ,too. Love the strong flavors on salad, sounds really good

tribecachef said...


Toffeeapple said...

Serendipity - I managed to find Blood Oranges today and just happened to buy some black olives too! How lucky is that? It should brighten up this grey day no end.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Sylvia, sorry it's gray down there and hope it perks back up soon. When I was writing the recipe I realized how different the flavors were than what I usually cook. I think I need the change when it's so gloomy outside!

Tribecachef, grazie. So glad you like.

Toffeeapple, well then it's kismet. Great minds think alike : )

Anonymous said...

I just absolutely love your blog. The food always looks delicious, exquisitely prepared and expertly shot! This keeps me going through my work day. Thanks!

--A new fan

Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

Blood oranges are just so gorgeous and so delicious! What a fantastic salad!

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Anonymous, That's so good to hear, thank you! I'm so glad you found the blog and that you're enjoying it. Stay in touch.

Jenn, thanks! There's something so decadent about the color, I can't resist. Plus I seem to be in the midst of some sort of personal citrus extravaganza. xo

Nisrine, Dinners and Dreams said...

I was born and raised in Morocco so this salad brings back memories. Love the color of the blood orange and the bit of tagine showing in the picture.

Ben said...

Takes me back to my time working in Meknes. Well researched post, thanks.

Sophie said...

This looks absolutely delicious. Blood oranges are so photogenic and tasty I don't blame you for making the most of them while they are available.

I've been using Tarocco oranges recently which are worth buying if you see them - they're a kind of speckled cross between orange oranges and blood oranges

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Nisrine, how wonderful thank you! I'm so glad the salad reminds you of home (and so jealous you grew up there too).

Ben, thank you! It's so simple and so good I think because of that.

Sophie, you'd THINK blood oranges were photogenic, but it turns out they only are when shot from above. Ok the peels are pretty, but the actual fruit shot from the side looks like raw meat. Not appealing! I must check out Taroccos, thank you. I haven't seen them here. Is the flavor tarter than a true blood orange?

Jill @ La Provence said...

You'll find this salad here in Provence as well, sometimes with our green picholine olives.

Warda said...

You know I can't resist such beauty! Especially when the recipe comes from North Africa.

Patricia Scarpin said...

This is one of the most beautiful salads I have ever seen. Love citrus, love olives... Yum!

Tom & Meagan said...

We served this salad (no blood oranges, just navels) last night with some grilled barramundi and added some red chili. Thanks for a great meal!

Gloria said...

What lovely look this Amanda, love the colours! and your pictures are awesome, gloria

Barbara said...

Delicious looking salad. I love blood orange. It makes a great sorbet. Recently I went to Lebanese cafe that served a blood orange soda. It was a beautiful colour but not as good as a fresh juice.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Jill, I love when that Moorish influence shows up in France, Spain, Sicily, etc! Very pretty with the green too! Thanks for your comment.

Warda, thank you. Blood oranges are hard to resist aren't they?

Patricia, aren't you nice? It's one of my favorite flavor combinations.

Tom and Meagan, great idea!!! I love those twangy citrus pairings with fish. The extra fresh heat of the chilis must have been delicious. I'll have to try it myself. Thanks for letting me know.

Gloria, you're so kind thank you! I'm so glad you like.

Barbara, great to hear from you my dear. You know what I love? Blood orange mimosas.

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