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Oranges and Olives Combine to Make a Memorable Salad


Orange and Olive Salad

Olives have been on my mind lately, thanks in part to the recent Olives Olé. And one of the ways I like to serve them is in a salad with oranges, so the sweet and salty have a chance to blend. This is a Mediterranean classic, and Dorie Greenspan has a great variation in her new cookbook, “Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours” (Houghton Mifflin, $40).

“This is an exceedingly simple first-course salad or chaser when the main event is a tagine or rich stew,” she writes. “Here, slices of orange are drizzled with olive oil and strewn with onion rings and small black olives.”

Play around with the ingredients. I used blood oranges, simply because they were all I had in the house. The color wasn’t as vibrant, but the juice was abundant and flavorful. That forced me to add a touch of cilantro, which worked nicely in the mix.

Orange and Olive Salad

1 small onion, red or yellow
4 navel, Temple or other “meaty” oranges
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
Niçoise or other small black olives, pitted or not
Salt, preferably fleur de sel, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

You can leave the onion whole or cut it in half. thinly slice it, and separate the slices into rings or half rings. rinse the slices and drop them into a bowl of ice water. If you’ve got the time, let them sit in their water bath for about 20 minutes — the rinse will wash away some of their bitterness, and the bath will make them crisp.

You may want to remove the zest and save it before peeling the oranges. You can remove it in wide strips, cut away the white pith on the underside, and freeze the strips; you can sliver or chop the zest or you can grate it. (Slivered or grated zest won’t freeze as well.)

Remove a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange to give yourself flat surfaces, stand the orange up, and, working your knife around the contours of the orange, cut away the peel, the pith and the tiniest bit of flesh. Once they are peeled, cut the oranges into rounds 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick, and arrange attractively on a large serving platter. If you’d like, you can cover the oranges and chill them before you finish and serve the salad.

Drain the onions and pat them dry. Drizzle the olive oil over the oranges, scatter over the onions, top with the olives and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan

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Ask a Foodie: Is White Part of Orange Peel Nutritious?


NavelOranges (1)Q. I’ve heard that the white part of an orange peel has nutritional value. Is that true?

A. From sources I’ve checked, the white part of the orange, technically called the pericarp, has almost as much vitamin C as does the orange fruit.  The pericarp includes the white, thready material that is called the pith. The seeds are called pips.

While looking up information on this everyday fruit, I remembered my second grade teacher, Mrs. McKinney, telling us that before oranges were widely grown in the United States, they were a very special, sought-after treat at Christmas. Children looked forward to finding oranges dropped into the toes of their  Christmas stockings.

More interesting facts about oranges:

  • The fruit of the orange tree, as are all fruits in the genus Citrus, is considered a berry. That is because it contains seeds enclosed in soft, fleshy fruit, and come from a single ovary.
  • What about the seedless orange, the navel orange? This orange came about as a mutation from a single tree in an orchard at a Brazilian monastery in 1820.  It is called “navel” because on one end, where a small “twin” orange begins to grow inside the peel, the protrusion looks a bit like a belly button.
  • Because this orange was seedless, the only way to propagate it was to take cuttings from this single tree and graft them onto other trees. According to Wikipedia, all navel oranges are basically clones, having the same genetic makeup as the fruits from that original tree.

If your curiousity about this fruit is piqued, pick up a copy of John McPhee’s fascinating book, “Oranges,”  first published in 1967 but reprinted in paperback form since. McPhee, a longtime staff writer at the New Yorker and a Pulitzer Prize-winner, began writing about oranges for a magazine article. But, he found such a wealth of interesting material that it grew into a book. I’d recommend it not simply for the information, but for absorbing, entertaining reading.

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