Back in the early days of our courtship, when Pete and I were first stepping out, he described in loving detail an orange salad that he’d eaten on previous family holidays in Spain. My first thoughts on hearing about this Spanish concoction, was that it sounded utterly revolting. The very idea of putting oranges and hard-boiled eggs together made me want to heave. The more he protested how delicious it was, the more I wanted to gag. This eggy/citrus combo held no appeal whatsoever.
All talk of the infamous Ensalada Naranja was banished and it wasn’t until a couple of years later, when we had booked a short birthday break to Spain that once more, it reared its ugly head. Our destination was Valle Lecrin, an orange growing region an hour and a half drive north of Malaga.
Heading off the main road, we wound our way round the turquoise lake and through the peaceful orange groves towards Restabal. As we wound down the car windows, the scent of orange blossom filled the car. It was beyond exquisite. THE most delightful and memorable olfactory experience, ever.
It was lunchtime when we arrived at Restaurante Los Naranjos. Spring sun burst through the burgeoning vine leaves above the terrace and dappled the tiled floor beneath. We found a table over looking the valley and settled down to look at the menu. Orange salad writ loud and clear. Quite clearly, there was no escape.
And so my love affair with Orange salad began. I ate it everyday, twice a day, for five days on the trot. I would have had it for breakfast too if it had been on offer.
I want you to trust me on this. I’m going to give you the recipe, and if you feel like giving it a go, I’d love to hear what you think. Chances are, you’ll be as besotted as I am.
Here are the ingredients as if I was making this for Pete and I, but of course you can make less or more, depending on your appetite, or how many mouths you are feeding.
4 oranges (pre-chilled in fridge)
2 large tomatoes
1 small onion, very finely sliced and chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs
100 grams salt cod (unsoaked) shredded in to small pieces. Here in Spain you can buy packets of salt cod specially for salad that don’t need pre-soaking (It may be advisable to double check whether you should soak it or not if using regular salt cod. The texture is meant to be quite firm so a quick soak is probably all you would need if you can’t get hold of salad salt cod)
A good grind of black pepper
A small tin or jar of roasted red peppers – optional. I like them, Pete doesn’t.
A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil – I use two tablespoons.
Some black olives
I don’t add salt because the saltiness of the cod is enough for me.
Using a very sharp knife, peel oranges and slice in to rounds. I then cut these in half carefully taking out any pips. It’s important to take off all the pith so that you just have the flesh. Arrange these slices in alternate layers with the onions and salt cod. The tomatoes should be sweet and firm. Cut into either chunks or slices, which ever you prefer. Arrange the quartered hard-boiled eggs on the top and the olives and drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. If I’m organized, and not running late with lunch, I then put the salad back in the fridge for half an hour or so, so that the juice of the oranges can marinate with the salt cod. Any leftovers eat well the next day.
From early spring until late autumn our house is filled with visiting family and friends. Inevitably this salad makes an appearance on a weekly basis. I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t enjoy this glorious salad. DISFRUTAR!