Moroccan Orange Salad with Red Onions & Black Olives
This salad from Morocco is colorful and refreshing, and perhaps unbelievably delicious. If you can be swayed by it’s somewhat unique beauty to try it (as I was), I believe you’ll return to it again and again. I quickly rinse the sliced onions to remove any of their biting sharpness. They mellow almost instantly and the flavors seem to all come together in perfect balance. This salad accompanied our skewered chicken, grilled asparagus and couscous for last night’s dinner. It’s also an excellent accompaniment to hot stews or highly spiced dishes, which is, I suppose, why Moroccans imagined it in the first place. (Recipes for the rest of dinner to follow.)
Orange Salad with Red Onions and Black Olives
- 3 fresh navel oranges
- 1/2 – 1 red onion
- 1 handful of black olives (12 or so)
- 2-3 Tbl. olive oil
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
- sea salt
- 1 t. cumin seeds, roasted
- 1/2 t. Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 small bunch of cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- Optional: fennel bulb – see below for variation
Roast the cumin seeds on medium-low heat in a small pan. Remove from pan and set aside to cool. Slice the onion (I generally use only 1/2 of an average size red onion) and quickly rinse the slices in a bowl of cool water to remove their bite. Drain and place them on a couple paper towels to dry. With a sharp knife, remove the peel and white pith from the orange and slice it thinly. Place the oranges in a shallow bowl, and scatter the top with the onion and olives. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, juice of a lime, salt (to taste) and smoked paprika. Pour the dressing over the salad and then sprinkle with toasted cumin seeds and cilantro leaves.
Variation: I frequently will make this salad with very thinly sliced fennel bulb. About one-quarter of an average-sized bulb is about right.
(This recipe is adapted from one appearing in a delicious little book by Ghillie Basan, Tagine, Spicy stews from Morocco)
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