Oranges with olive oil, pistachio and black pepper
This recipe is all about the pistachio spice mix. For as pleasant as it is to enjoy this orange salad, the kicker is that you now have excess spice mix that can be kept in a sealed jar for months. It works equally well on your morning porridge as it does with roasted game. It’s both sweet and savoury. And if you want more leftovers, why not simply double the quantities of the pistachio, sugar, salt and pepper in this recipe.
Contrary to commonly associated imagery, citrus season falls predominantly in winter. And thankfully in Australia we have some extraordinary citrus regions, with the majority of the fruit grown in the Riverland region of South Australia, the Murray Valley in Victoria and New South Wales, NSW’s Riverina and the Central Burnett region of Queensland. For this recipe, I especially like to use Valencia oranges.
Of course I don’t condone stealing, but I have come across extraordinary wild fruit trees in both urban and rural areas. Often the fruit may look pretty gnarly and have mottled skin but, depending on the tree and season, this fruit can hold the greatest flavour. Most cities have an online map or source of information regarding public land and places to gather produce. As important as it is to support the industry and buy well-grown citrus, I also enjoy the observation and interaction of picking my own. Just be sure to give them a good wash.
Eating lovingly prepared oranges feels almost as decadent as having someone feeding you peeled grapes. This salad is perfect served with bitter greens such as witlof, and braised white beans or roasted duck.
- 6 oranges
- 1 tsp black peppercorns, ground
- 150g pistachios
- 40g brown sugar
- 20g salt flakes
- 1 small piece ginger
- 80ml good olive oil
- Peel the zest from the oranges and place it into a dehydrator or an oven on very low heat (65-80ºC is the premium zone, or for gas ovens just turn on the pilot light). Once dry, grind the zest in a spice grinder. Do the same with the black peppercorns.
- Toast the pistachios lightly in a low oven (150ºC) for about six minutes. I prefer to grind the pistachios using a mortar and pestle but a food processor on pulse would work.
- Combine the pistachios with the orange zest and pepper. Add the sugar and salt and rub it through the mixture to finish.
- Cut the top and tail off the oranges and stand them upright in order to remove the rest of the pith. Depending on what style of orange you use, you can slice them straight across into rounds or, if they are heavily seeded, divide them into segments.
- Grate a small piece (about the size of a little fingernail) of ginger into the olive oil using a microplane. Toss the oranges into this and mix.
- Let the oranges marinate for 15 minutes, then serve them on a flat plate liberally sprinkled with the pistachio spice mix (there will be leftovers).
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 5, 2020 as "The spice is right".
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