I found it by accident. There was a cooking class I was scheduled to teach to promote the cookbook section at a local library and not 24 hours before, after all was planned, I received a phone call that we couldn’t actually “cook” at this cooking class, that the kitchen was not up to fire code. Well, what could I do but go back and look in the cookbooks for recipes that didn’t need “cooking” per se, as much as assembling. Now, that being said I am a big fan of COOKING at my cooking classes, but I took a risk, without testing it, or ever having anything like it cross my lips, I made this at the class and like I told you, a star was born.
Since then I have made it many times, with run-of-the-mill thin-skinned brightly-hued navel oranges, with lovely sweet pink-fleshed Cara Caras, with gorgeous Valencias so heavy with juice I thought they would burst in my hand, and all were amazing.
The secret to this is the red wine vinegar which brings out the flavor of the oranges while taming their sweetness.
There is nothing like the surprise element of this salad, when you watch your dinner guests, take a bite of this and are expecting cloying sweetness, or the tang of olives, but instead see how well the flavors meld. They will think, “Garlic-cumin dressing on FRUIT!!! No!” And then you will pull it off like a magic trick, you a sorcerer of taste, conjuring all of the magic you have to make this work. But actually, it goes together like ramma-lamma-lamma-ka-dinga-da-dinga-dong (whatever the heck that means, thank you very much Danny and Sandy). The only way to convince yourself and others is to spread the good word and to make this and eat it as often as possible with as many people as possible as often as you can. Because baby, it’s a STAR!
Moroccan Orange and Olive Salad with Cumin-Garlic Dressing
4 oranges, Cara Caras, Valencia, Blood Oranges, or Navel
¼ cup oil cured black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, garlic, paprika, cumin and oil. Set aside to let flavors blend.
2. Remove the skin and pith of the oranges using a serrated knife: cut the ends off of the orange and then starting at one cut end, slice away the peel curving the knife around to the other end. Then slice the orange horizontally into ¼-inch rounds.
3. Arrange orange slices on a serving platter and scatter with olives and parsley.
4. Drizzle the garlic-cumin dressing over the oranges and olives sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Note: This dressing is also delicious poured over couscous, chicken, and pasta. Just sayin’.