Orange & Red Onion Salad

This week at the office lunch a colleague showed us food pics from her vacation in Sicily. One of the side dishes happened to be oranges with black olives, which immediately triggered a picture of oranges with finely sliced red onions, black olives and pistachios in my head.

As you can see in the pictures, though, that image was a little different from what I actually made. While at the Friday market, my eyes spied pomegranates, and so the idea of olives was immediately replaced with the shiny kernels.

I was quite sure I had pistachios at home because I’d seen the bag during a recent store cupboard clear-out, but when I got home I remembered I’d chucked it because the pistachios had turned rancid. Luckily I had some mild pine nuts left as I definitely wanted something with texture on the salad.

The oranges threw a spanner in the works as they really disappointed. The bag said they were sweet oranges but there was no sweetness whatsoever. I had decided to pan-fry the oranges (no oil) and the lacking sweetness had me melting some raw cane sugar in the pan before adding the orange slices.

That was definitely a good idea, although I would add more than the two teaspoons next time – that should tell you just how un-sweet those oranges were… The solution for me was to add some more sugar to the dressing, which consisted of freshly squeezed orange juice and a little olive oil.

It was definitely a very nice lunch salad, oranges and red onions go very well together, and the possibilities with this salad are manifold. You could use blood oranges when the season comes round, exchange the pine nuts for pistachios or roughly chopped hazelnuts, add mint instead of pomegranate kernels, add some good quality black pepper, add black olives…

This salad makes for a colourful starter for a dinner, and I would definitely serve this to guests.

If you want to give it a go, cut off the skin of 3 oranges, removing the white skin completely as well, and thinly slice the oranges (collect the juices that run out while cutting).

Peel a medium red onion and slice very thinly. Collect a handful of pomegranate kernels from the fruit. Set both aside.

Heat a frying pan and add 2 – 4 tsp of raw cane sugar, wait until it starts melting, then add the orange slices. Fry them on both sides, adding more sugar if they aren’t sweet enough, then shortly before they’re done, add the juices collected during cutting. [If you prefer your pine nuts roasted, add them to the pan before adding the orange juices.]

For the dressing, squeeze 1 orange and mix juice with about 2 tsp of olive oil. [You can season with salt and pepper, if you prefer.]

Arrange half the orange slices in one layer on a serving plate, add some sliced onions, create another layer of oranges and onions, then sprinkle with the pomegranate kernels and pine nuts. Drizzle over dressing with a teaspoon.