Orange salad: a weird concept, a great excuse for putting olive oil on fruit, and one of my favorite things to eat! My maternal grandmother’s family (from not that far south of Rome) has been making this stuff for generations. So has my maternal grandfather’s (from Sicily). More and more I’ve been seeing it on restaurant menus in New York. Why? Easy. It’s awesome.
All of that fresh fruit and olive oil is intoxicating. The colors are gemlike and savage. It’s cheap. It’s easy to make. It tastes good. It’s as flexible as a jazz improvisation. The acid is refreshing and can cleave through anything: the dark flavor of grilled meat, the funkiest cheese around, the recent memory of a head-on winter wind.
Spurred on by the best version I’ve tried (at Frankies 570 in the West Village), Allie and I order citrus salad as often as we can. They’re each a little different, and it’s nice to taste around and get new ideas.
Making citrus salad is cake. Slice thin orange rounds. Hit them with slivered red onion and mint. Add salt and pepper. Drown the plate with good olive oil. (For this, I like to use Sicilian olive oil from Frankies, available here. The olive oil is incredible–clean, light, bright, peppery, and gateway to visions of windblown Italian crop fields.)
You can move on to other ingredients, like cured black olives or pickled fennel, like roasted peppers or toasted pistachios, but these options are optional. Orange + red onion + mint + olive oil +salt/pepper = orange salad. That’s all you need for a side that goes with anything, or for tropical vibes on a frozen day. -Chris