Eating Jewish: Orange Salad with Olives
After having spent an entire day in the library, the thought of cooking anything when I got home seemed impossible to fathom. On my way home I tried to think of something simple that I could throw together with a few of the ingredients I had lying around my kitchen. I remembered that I had bought three oranges the day before and I also had some pimento stuffed green olives in the cupboard that I could use to make a delicious salad with. I simply added some olive oil, cumin, paprika and salt to the oranges and olives, and dinner was ready. It is a light and fresh tasting salad, in which the oranges and the olives really shine through, with the cumin and the paprika bringing some warmth and sweetness to the dish.
This salad brought me right back to my trip to Morocco and the Djemaa el Fna market in Marrakech, where a multitude of vendors were selling freshly squeezed orange juice along with other stands that were brimming with olives of every conceivable variety. Thinking back to the market and seeing the oranges and olives being sold side by side, it only seems logical that they would be paired to create a salad.
This dish is similar to the Moroccan orange and olive salad that Claudia Roden writes about in her cookbook, The Book of Jewish Food. In the head notes to the recipe, Roden explains that Jews living in Essaouira traditionally used argan oil to dress this salad, which is supposed to give the oranges a unique taste. Argan oil is derived from the kernels of the argan tree, which is native to Morocco and is also prized as the main ingredient in a variety of beauty products. I think that argan oil would be a great touch to this salad if it is available to you, and is something I would love to try in the future. Although, Roden's recipe calls for black olives, I prefer how the saltiness of green olives plays against the sweetness of the oranges. The combination of the green olives against the bright color of the oranges makes this a visually stunning salad as well.
A perfect introduction to Moroccan cuisine, this is a simple and healthy salad that will add a bit of sunshine to your plate whenever you choose to make it.
Orange Salad with Olives
Adapted from Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food
A handful of green olives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or argan oil
1-2 teaspoons cumin
1-2 teaspoons paprika
Peel the oranges and cut into segments. Add the olives and dress the salad with olive oil, salt, cumin and paprika. You may sprinkle more cumin and paprika over the salad when serving.