Monday, December 29, 2008

Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, hot

This salad has wonderful contrasting flavours. Farid (from one of the Maghreb countries) made this at a dinner party years ago and I've been happy to make it from time to time ever since.

I'm never good at proportions; it's a matter of what looks and tastes good to you.


Moroccan olives: the sun-cured, black, wrinkly, shiny ones
Clementines or oranges.
Fresh thai peppers, or hot sauce*
Lettuce of your choice: Boston lettuce, leaf lettuce, mixed baby bourgeois lettuce, etc.
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Pit the olives: Squish them under the blade of a wide flat knife, then squish out the pit. This kind is easier to pit than, say, Kalamata olives, because the pit doesn't cling to the flesh that much.

Chop the olives into smallish bits. Cover them with boiling water and let stand for a few minutes to remove some of the salt and to partially rehydrate the olives. Don't leave them too long, unless you like mushy olives. Drain the olives.

Peel the citrus. If using oranges, remove the flesh from the membranes. If using clementines, that's too difficult, so just slice them thinly.

If using fresh peppers, chop them very fine, mix with the citrus, and let them macerate for a while. If using hot sauce, you can skip this step.

Dress the lettuce with olive oil. Then add the hot sauce (if using) and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. (You don't need a lot of vinegar, because of the citrus fruit's acidity.) Toss to evenly distribute.

Garnish with the citrus and olives, and serve. Enjoy!

* The original recipe used harissa, but I didn't like the flavour of the brand I used. It's not very Mediterranean but my favourite hot sauce (first tried years ago, and not displaced by any other) is Arizona Gunslinger's Habanero Pepper Sauce.

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