Thursday, February 18, 2010

Orange, Olive and Argan Oil Salad

Being a non traditionalist instead of planning a romantic Valentine's Day dinner the fella and I had six of our favorite people over for dinner this past weekend.  And to trick us all into forgetting it is still the deepest darkest days of winter I cooked all Moroccan dishes.  The colorful highly spiced dishes and all the amazing wine made it feel like summer for a few wonderful hours around my table. 

And if you've been following my posts at Forkful of News you will already know that my obsession with Moroccan cooking has been going on for a little while.  If nothing else go read my post about argan oil which besides being an amazingly cool oil also plays a huge role in the recipe for the starter course of my meal.  Plus there are hilarious pictures of tree climbing goats so it is just about a requirement that you go find out about argan oil.  It's worth a few minutes of your time I promise, the goats will make your day.

I decided to start dinner out with this simple orange and olive salad.  The thing I love most about Moroccan dishes is so often all it requires is gathering, measuring, cutting the ingredients, adding heat, waiting for amazing food to happen.  It requires very little maintenance.  This salad doesn't even need heat, it just needs tossing and then you instantly have awesome.

The citrus was made somehow more amazing with the hint of cumin and paprika and the nutty argan oil made it even better.  You could just use a high quality olive oil if you're not in the mood to track down and invest in yet another oil with pretty much the same result.  And a crisp not too grassy Bogle Sauvignon Blanc courtesy of my foodie friends Tim and Jess was an excellent compliment to the salad. 

I was super decadent and served this beautiful salad alone in tiny plates so that there was no other food on the table to steal it's glory.  It was that pretty that I was willing to do extra dishes for it.  Also I felt fancy serving dinner in semi-proper courses.  And of course I got to stun all my friends by serving them something with such an exotic ingredient and tell them the story of it.  A very excellent start to a successful dinner.

Also included in this meal:

Red Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

Orange, Olive and Argan Oil Salad

4 oranges, peeled and cut in into bite sized pieces
16 black or kalamata olives
1/ 2 red onion, finely chopped

1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons argan oil
1 tablespoon olive oil (you can do all olive oil if investing in argan oil is not in your budget)
salt, to taste
1/ 2 teaspoon cumin
1/ teaspoon paprika
pinch chili powder

2 tablespoons parsley

Put chopped oranges in a serving bowl along with the olives and chopped onion.  Toss well.

Make the dressing by whisking together all the remaining ingredients except for the parsley. 

If making ahead of time store the dressing separately and pour over salad at the very last minute.  If serving right away pour dressing over salad and toss well then sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Makes enough to serve a party of 8 a starter size portion.

From Claudia Roden's Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon.

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