Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oranges and Olives

I'm going to be honest. This post was inspired by my trash. I leaned over to spit the pit of an oil-cured olive into the trash -- one of those step/flip top things -- and got an intense hit of orange from the peel on the top of the pile.
[Yes, I know these things could be composted. I used to compost everything in my backyard, but I have no backyard now and the City of Cambridge doesn't sponsor household composting. What's a girl to do?]
The olive in my mouth and the orange in my nose was an intriguing combination.It wasn't unlike the marinated olives you get at bars that're sometimes served warm with bits of zest, but orange-ier and super salty. [Oil-cured olives are actually salt cured until they get all shriveled, then stored in oil.] I'm trying to come up with an appropriate dessert to highlight the combo, but this salad dressing is a nice stop-gap.
If you've never supremed [soo-PREM-d] an orange before, it's not hard, but it does take a sharp knife and a little patience. If you don't work work in a restaurant, there is absolutely no need to be fast at this... though a little practice will make you feel like a pro. [There's also an alternative after the jump.]

Recipe: Oil-Cured Olive and Orange Salad Dressing
It's not absolutely necessary to supreme the orange at all; removing the membranes lets it meld with the other flavors better and ensures you don't get any pithy flavor, but you can also chop the segments into smaller pieces after you peel it carefully. I think this recipe would work well with other olives. Green olives, for example, would make something completely different but could make a great side salad for some kind of tomato-y main dish like chicken Veracruz or lasagna.

1 orange, supremed*
1/4 cup oil-cured olives [variations welcome], pitted and sliced or roughly chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
4 cups salad greens [large leaf greens like lettuce should be chopped into 1/2" squares]

Squeeze any remaining juice from the orange membranes into a large bowl.  Slice orange segments into 1/2" wide pieces. Stir together oranges, olives, oil, and spices with any juice in the bowl.  Let sit ~5 minutes before tossing with salad.

*Supreming an Orange:
Cut the top and bottom off the orange so that it sits flat and you can see how thick the pith [the white part] is. Use a curved downward motion to completely remove the pith in one strip, if possible.   Cut all the way around the orange, then flip it over and clean up any spots you've missed.

Now hold the orange in your hand.  Slice as close as possible to the membranes between each segment, starting with the side nearer you and then the far side, all the way to the center.  The segment should fall onto your knife, but it's good to have a cutting board or bowl to catch any strays.
It's easy, see?

[Thanks to JG for the camera assist!]

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