Oranges, tangerines, clementines and grapefruits, are a big part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. We are lucky that bright citrus fruits are plentiful and in season during the drab, grey winter months. With their brilliant colors and their sweet, tangy taste, they can brighten the darkest and coldest day. Can’t we all use some sunshine, just about this time of the year?
When I was growing up, we used to travel to nearby orange groves that belonged to my relatives. It was a whole day’s excursion punctuated with a picnic under the blossoming citrus trees that were heavy with fruit. On our way back, the entire trunk of the car was filled with all kinds of oranges, tangerines and lemons that we had picked that day. All this fruit was put to good use in the weeks to follow: freshly squeezed orange juice to start the day, fruit to peel and eat after a meal, orange jams and preserves, and of course, lots of citrus flavors in my mother’s cooking and baking.
In this simple orange and olive salad, different varieties of sweet and perfectly ripe oranges are paired with sharp, briny olives, crunchy nuts, and fresh mint. A light grinding of black pepper and a drizzle of top-quality Greek extra virgin olive oil is all that is needed to round out the flavors. After all, not all salads have to be green.
- 1 large blood orange
- 1 large Cara-Cara orange
- 1 large naval orange
- 5 green and/or black olive-cured olives
- 1 TBSP. pine nuts or chopped hazelnuts, toasted (optional)
- --- freshly ground pepper
- --- mint leaves
- 1-2 TBSP. best quality olive oil
- With a sharp knife, remove the peel of the oranges and as much of the pith as possible. Slice into wheels and remove any seeds. Reserve their juices and set aside.
- Lightly toast the pine nuts or hazelnuts and let them cool completely. Pit the olives and cut them in half.
- In a large platter, arrange the oranges in an overlapping way. Add the olives and the cooled nuts. Season the oranges lightly with some freshly ground pepper. Top with the reserved juices, the mint leaves and a drizzle of your best finishing olive oil.