It’s time to lighten up a bit!
The Thanksgiving meal is now behind us, but December being the season of winter parties and holiday baking, more hearty, rich food awaits us.
We’re not complaining, of course. We love this time of year and can’t wait to blog about some of our favorite seasonal foods – polenta con funghi e salsiccia, tozzetti, and panettone are a few of the recipes on deck at Due Spaghetti for the coming weeks. We just think it’s a good idea to celebrate a few light and refreshing winter recipes, too.
Our inspiration for insalata di arance came from Luigi Vitali, baker-in-residence for Cossetta’s in St. Paul, recent recipient of the Best Focaccia award in Minnesota Monthly. Luigi, who comes from the village of Acquaviva delle Fonti in the Apulia region of Italy, was our guest for Thanksgiving dinner.
Serving such a traditional American meal to international guests inevitably leads to conversations about typical foods from their part of the world, and about half-way into our third wine, while musing over the presence of blueberries in our salad, Luigi told us how salt, pepper and olive oil are added to oranges in Southern Italy for a refreshing salad.
Oranges are a common winter food in many parts of Italy. Each December, the citrusy smell of oranges and orange peel reminds us of Christmas time at Stefano’s mom’s house. Two days following Thanksgiving, we still could not stop thinking about that orange salad! Ignoring the left-over mashed potatoes, wild rice, turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin and pecan pie in the fridge, we set about researching insalata di arance.
Like so many recipes, there are variations on this one. The one we settled on calls for oranges, fennel, anchovies, fresh oregano, black pepper, salt, and olive oil. It is spectacular – the freshest, most aromatic salad you will ever enjoy, and the perfect break from the heartier foods of the winter season.
Ingredients for 2-4 servings
Fennel, 1 small bulb or 1/2 of a medium bulb
1 sprig fresh oregano
*Dark red Sicilian blood oranges would be spectacular, if you can find them. If not, any orange will work fine. We couldn’t find blood oranges, so we used one naval orange and one large, firm tangerine in order to have some variety in color and flavor.
Use a paring knife to cut away the peel of the orange. Slice past the white of the peel just into the flesh of the orange to remove all of the the bitter pith. Slice the orange lengthwise into round discs, and then cut each disc into halves and then quarters, removing any white pith from the center. Place the orange pieces into a bowl.
Cut the stems and fronds off of the top of the fennel bulb. Remove any damaged outer layers from the bulb of the fennel. Remove a thin slice off of the base of the fennel and discard. Turn the fennel on its side and cut the bulb into thin slices. Chop the slices into smaller parts, and add it to your salad.
Cut the anchovies into small pieces, and add them to the oranges and fennel. Chop the oregano and add it, as well. Salt and pepper liberally, and drizzle with 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir, and serve.
Download the recipe Insalata di arance.
Cusumano Insolia 2010
We wanted a wine that would not interfere with the zesty citrus of the oranges and the variety of flavors in the salad, but that instead would emphasize and highlight them. Cusumano Insolia, a bright and lightly sparkling white, is produced in the same land where oranges grow under the warm Sicilian sun. It was the perfect compliment to our insalata di arance.