Spectacular Sicilian Blood Orange Salad
Unwrapping a blood orange must be one of the great pleasures of life – well, it is for me. The soft rustle of tissue, printed motif – a twisted grove, a swordfish, fishing boat and once I had a flowering artichoke... then the little fist, an orange bauble, more a planet than a sun (especially if it’s purpling) and the market cries of colour. Somehow it reflects the tenacity of Sicily and Sicilians, who can at times exude fatalism, but not with the blood orange. Sicilians fought back. Andrea Camilleri, the great Sicilian writer of the Inspector Montalbano novels was asked by a journalist why eating takes centre stage even at the point of uncovering a cadaver from a field in The Potters Field. Camilleri replies, ‘Eating is a sort of unconscious revenge for vitality, and affirmation of being alive in the face of continuous death’. Or perhaps as Pirandello would have said: dessert is a blood orange.
This is a simple summer salad for lunch with grilled fish.
Large fat bulb of feathery fennel with fronds
1-2 blood oranges, Moro if you can find them
Method Wash and thinly slice the fennel bulb. Peel the blood oranges. Do this over a bowl to catch any of the bloody blood orange juices. Discard the peel (sad because it’s beautiful) and thinly slice the blood orange. Arrange on a round plate, sprinkle with fennel fronds. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil and any juices caught from the oranges. Serve immediately. Serves four or greedy two.
By Jane Weir
This extract and recipe was first published in IOTA Issue Two. Click here to get the issue and read the full essay.