Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blood Orange & Black Olive Salad Recipe

Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad 1

I'm ashamed to say that it's been a long time since I contributed to the I Heart Cooking Clubs group;  nevertheless, some of you may recall that the group is cooking with Mark Bittman, and our theme this week is Raw Foods.  I'll be honest - when I read that my heart sank.  Now that doesn't mean I have anything against raw foods - quite the opposite in fact - but here in New Zealand, in the middle of winter, our thoughts turn more readily to soups and stews right now.  And, let's face it, a lot of what's seasonal here right now doesn't exactly lend itself to being served up "in the raw", so to speak.  Raw kumara (sweet potato) or pumpkin?  I don't think so!

What's more, this idea seemed to just compound the battle already raging within over my food choices right now.  As I mentioned last week, having just come back from a month in Greece, I find myself constantly longing for the food which reminds me of that time - which was of course beautiful, light, fresh summer food.

Eggplant salad
 The salad in this photo is one that I made while on Paros of fried eggplant, rocket, green olives, lemon zest and a local cheese called Mizithra

I just cannot get excited right now about root vegetables and casseroles, things that normally I really enjoy when the season comes around.  So I have been trying in my cooking lately, as much as possible, to give my wintery food a bit of a summery twist or "tweek" it in some way that is reminiscent of the food I ate in Greece.  I think I succeeded reasonably well with the Dried Fruit Compote I posted last week - a compote of dried peaches, apricots, figs, cherries and prunes - same fruit that I had eaten almost daily on Paros, just given a different treatment.  I think I also captured some of that feeling in a warm salad I made during the week of steamed beetroot and brown lentils - I got my Greek fix, by tossing everything in a very lemony vinaigrette (sweetened ever so slightly with a little honey and spiked with dried oregano), then adding black olives, chunks of feta, and some roasted hazelnuts.

So the challenge then for me - make something raw, using seasonal ingredients, and which would also transport me back to Greece for a few glorious moments.  This orange and black olive salad fits the bill perfectly for me, and even though Mark Bittman was actually inspired to make this dish after a visit to the south of France, I could easily be in Greece.  You see I chose to use blood oranges, instead of the naval oranges that were called for in the original recipe, and just the gorgeous rosy-orange colour of those on the plate with the pile of black olive paste reminds me immediately of this beautiful Paros sunrise.

Paros Sunrise

Now, I know you are waiting for me to just get on with the recipe, but before I do here is a little mystery food item for you.  Do you know what this is in the photo below?  Post your answer in the comment section - sorry I don't have a prize for getting it right, and I imagine for some of you out there it's a complete "no-brainer", but it was something I had never seen before.  Clue - unsurprisingly, I took this photo during my holiday in Greece...

Greece 259

Keep watching this space for next week's mystery food item.  Now, on with the recipe.

Blood Orange & Black Olive Salad
Adapted from Mark Bitman's
Vegetarian, gluten-free
Click here for a printable copy

1 cup of Kalamata olives (or any black olives you prefer)
olive oil (quantity will vary with type of olives used)
1x blood orange per person
fennel seeds

Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad 6

Begin by removing the seeds from the olives - please do yourself a favour and avoid already pitted olives.  This is very easy to do - simply place the olive on a hard surface such as a plate or board;  press firmly with your thumb (or if your olives are harder you can use the bottom of a cup or glass);  the olive will easily split open;  remove the seed and discard.

Put the pitted olives now into your food processor with about a teaspoon of olive oil and pulse a couple of times to roughly chop the olives.  Add a little more olive oil and keep pulsing till you have the desired consistency - take care not to turn this into complete "mush";  you want to keep a bit of texture to the paste.

Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad 5

Now to the oranges.  Grate the zest of one orange and set aside.  Then remove all the skin (including the white pith) from the oranges, and slice into thickish rounds.  Hint, do this on a plate so that you can collect all the juices which will come out of the oranges.

Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad 4

Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad 3

To serve, arrange orange slices on a plate and top with a dollop of the olive paste.  Drizzle with your best olive oil and some of the reserved orange juice.  Sprinkle with a few thyme leaves and fennel seeds and a little of the reserved orange zest.

Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad 2

Then sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy your Paros sunrise on a plate!


  1. Welcome back, Sue =) What a fabulous way to spend time...basking in the beauty of Greece! I love blood oranges, but can't find them around here that often...what a delicious sounding salad. Are those olives in that picture??

  2. I love that those satisfied both your food craving and the seasonal produce lull that winter brings. The salt from the olives combined with the blood oranges sounds so tasty! I agree with Heather..I'm gonna guess those are olives!

  3. Nice little salad.

    So now it's three - nil for olives.

  4. So happy to have you back Sue! The salad looks delicious--what a great combination of flavors. I won't guess on the picture because I would probably say olives too. ;-)

  5. So happy to have you back! Sounds like you've been enjoying a wonderful vacation in Greece. I'm loving the looks of the blood orange and olive salad- so pretty and colorful!

  6. Hi Sue! I see you stopped by to visit my site and wanted to check yours out! What a lovely place! you should so stop by and link up a recipe or two to the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! Girlichef is also one of the hosts! I adore blood oranges and look forward to them around here just after christmas! I will grab your rss feed and follow your blog! :) alex@amoderatelife

  7. Thanks everyone for visiting and for your lovely comments. It was a lovely salad - made a great, light lunch - I can imagine this would also be beautiful for a gathering served on a large platter, with a bit of rocket as well, would add a real "wow" factor to a buffet table. I also used some of the left over tapenade the next day on good toasted sourdough bread with avocado - think it was even better with the avocado actually than with the oranges :-)

    Thanks for having a guess at the mystery food photo - sorry, it's not olives. Feel free to have another guess - answer next week's post if no-one guesses before then.

    Alex, thanks for visiting and following my blog. I can imagine blood oranges being very "Christmassy" - that is a great time of year to get them. Thanks for the suggestion also about the Two for Tuesday blog hop - I am keen to participate so will hopefully do that very soon.

    Hope you're all having a great day.

  8. Oooo, oooo! Can I guess? They look rather suspiciously like imature red grapes that are just starting to think about ripening.

    Or am I just embarrassing myself with a totally off the wall guess?

  9. Not a bad guess, Dave, they do look rather like immature red grapes.

  10. Okay, everyone, so I guess it's time to share the answer with you all - they are in fact pistachio nuts - pretty cool, huh?!

    Interested in another mystery photo? Then check out today's post here



  11. Wow!! looking delicious to me.I definitely try this at my home.
    Couscous recipes


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