One of the best decisions my husband and I ever made was to pass on the big extravagant wedding and get married in the San Diego Courthouse. For one, I absolutely hate being the center of attention and would have probably blacked out. Two, while I love to plan the crap out of my own life, I really don't enjoy organizing other people-- which is a lot of what big weddings tend to boil down to. Finally, and most importantly, we wanted to spend our money on really good food and wine with family and close friends. And we wanted an awesome honeymoon. What actually happened on that awesome honeymoon, involving mountain bikes and the ER, is a story for another time. Today, the focus is on the part about really good food.
We had our wedding night dinner at a gorgeous family style, coastal Italian restaurant in La Jolla. The wine and food came in course after course, from bubbily Franciacorta and giant egg yolk raviolone to Mt. Etna's Nerello Mascalese and braised beef meatballs. But the citrus salad is the the dish I haven't been able to shake. I've searched on and off for two years for similar recipes, but it wasn't until walking past gorgeous winter oranges at the farmer's market that I decided to take matters into my own hands. I wrote this recipe based off of my memory, taste, and a small picture of the menu from that night. This salad is the real deal. The combination of flavors is unique yet incredibly coherent and balanced-- and you'll feel as if you're on the Sicilian coast yourself. Think bright, juicy oranges, briny olives, fresh parsley and the slow burn of chili oil.
sicilian citrus salad
serves 6 | inspired by Catania in San Diego
- 1 medium shallot, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 oranges, a mix of what looks good (Cara Cara, Navel, Blood, Valencia, etc)
- 12-15 castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp chili oil (can substitute extra-virgin olive oil if desired)
- 1- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl, toss the sliced shallot with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Meanwhile, using a sharp knife (serrated works great here), peel and slice the oranges. First, cut off a thin piece from the top and bottom of the orange, so it can sit flat on the cutting board. Then, cutting from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit, remove the peel and white pith. Peel the remaining oranges, removing all of the bitter white pith. Thinly slice the oranges crosswise and remove any seeds. Arrange the oranges on a platter.
- Drain the shallots, reserving 2 tbsp of the red wine vinegar, and scatter them, the olives, pistachios and parsley on top of the oranges.
- Whisk together the 2 tbsp of vinegar, chili oil, 1 tbsp of olive oil. It should be tart but not too sharp. Taste and if needed, adjust with more olive oil, salt and/ or pepper. Drizzle dressing evenly over the salad and serve.