Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Winter Salads

Orange and Black Olive Salad
The oranges on the tree outside my kitchen window are pretty sparse this year. I had my trees trimmed at precisely the wrong time—when the fruit was just forming. But trimming was exactly what the tree needed to make abundant fruit next year—if I can just hold on. The store-bought varieties are quite flavorful so I can still make this wonderful winter salad.

6 navel or temple oranges
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 teaspoon sweet smoky paprika
¼ teaspoon hot smoky paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Peel and section the oranges: First cut off the stem and the navel ends of the orange down to the flesh. Then cut off all the peel and white pith from the orange, starting at the top and working around the orange. It is easiest to do this with a serrated knife. Next section the orange by cutting on one side of the membrane and then on the other to release the orange piece. Continue your way around the orange. Squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl with the oranges. Refrigerate if you are not serving right away. You can do this the day before you are going to serve it.
2. Just before serving, drain the oranges, saving the juice. Arrange the olives and the oranges on a serving dish.
3. Make a dressing of the olive oil and the remaining ingredients, except the parsley; pour it over the olives and oranges. Add some of the reserved juice if the oranges need a bit more sauce; you can drink the rest. Sprinkle with parsley and stir in slightly. Serve at once.

Serves 4-6
Adapted from Paula Wolfert’s Couscous

Tabbouleh Cracked Wheat Salad
Elias Abusaba, our dear friend and a remarkable poet, would make us his version of Lebanese tabbouleh every time he and Mary Edith came to dinner. Nothing could compare to his. After he died, I was on my own and have tried my best to duplicate his wonderful salad, although I must confess (please forgive me, Elias) I don’t chop the parsley, green onions, and mint by hand. In memory of Elias…

½ cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
Juice of 1-2 lemons equaling about 6 tablespoons
3 Romas or other tomatoes, seeded, juiced, and chopped (you want about 2 cups chopped)
Note: Romas are pretty good during the winter—but are certainly not local. You can also use sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, thinly sliced.
2 cups chopped parsley (1½ - 2 bunches) using a food processor
½ cup chopped green onions (4-5 green onions) using a food processor
½ cup chopped mint, using a food processor
1 tablespoon dried mint
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch of allspice, optional
Pinch of cinnamon, optional
½ teaspoon cumin, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
Lettuce for serving

1. Soak the bulgur in 2 cups water for 20 minutes. Squeeze well with your hands, removing as much moisture as you can.
2. Put in a bowl and add the lemon juice and tomatoes. Let sit for 30-45 minutes to absorb the liquid or until the grain is tender.
3. Add the parsley, green onions, fresh and dried mint, cucumber, spices, if desired, salt, pepper and oil. Mix well.
4. Just before serving, taste for seasonings. Adjust as needed. You can serve the salad on a bed of greens or use the leaves to scoop it up.

6 servings
A combination of two recipes: Cassie Maroun-Paladin’s Foods of the Lebanon and Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

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