In my last post, I suggested the merits of enjoying a citrusy salad with marinated sardines (σαρδέλες Μαρινάτος), for a simple and flavourful springtime lunch. The perfect end-of-winter and start-of-spring citrusy salad for that simple lunch, is this wonderful Ionian classic "Salata me Portokalia kai Elies" (or orange salad with olives (Σαλάτα πορτοκάλι με ελιές). Like the recipe for the sardines, it is almost embarrassing really to call this a recipe, because it is so easy to make!
I first enjoyed this salad on my first visit to Corfu, where the proprietor of our small guest house picked a few ripe juicy oranges off the tree in her garden, peeled them, removing the bitter pith and arranged slices on a plate. To this, she added thin slices of sweet red onion and a generous handful of wrinkled black, salty olives. The salad was finished with a generous amount of homemade olive oil, red wine vinegar and a sprinkling of sweet paprika. It was a masterpiece of colour and flavour and she encouraged us to enjoy the salad in her garden with some bread, feta and chilled homemade wine.
I have adjusted this recipe slightly, by adding a little thinly sliced radish which offers a little peppery intensity against the sweet oranges and salty olives. In terms of the oranges, I couldn’t resist using some dark red blood oranges. They are here for such a short season, so I can't resist buying loads of them at the market - in this salad, they provide a little extra tartness compared to the navel oranges and depth of flavour. For the olives, I highly recommend using the black, dry and wrinkled variety from Thassos. They have been left on the trees much longer and, as such, have a more robust flavour and are quite salty. This salad could even benefit from a little "Venetian" twist (with so much of Ionian cooking being influenced by its Venetian history) of some shaved fennel – the classic Italian flavour going so well with blood oranges and indeed sardines!!
Ionian Island Orange and Olive Salad (Σαλάτα πορτοκάλι με ελιές)
2 navel oranges, peeled, pith removed, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 blood oranges, peeled, pith removed, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
4 small radishes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
1/2 cup dry black Greek olives from Thassos
2 teaspoons Greek red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup Greek extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sweet Spanish paprika
1. Arrange the oranges, onions, radishes and olives on a platter.
2. Pour over the olive oil and vinegar, sprinkle over the paprika and season to taste. Serve immediately.