Orange and Olive Salad

When I’m having a fairly heavy meal, I crave a fresh salad alongside. The savoriness of the sauce really brings out the sweet-tartness of the oranges, and the citrus in turn brightens the heavier notes in the sauce. The briny olive tapenade brings up the natural sweetness of the oranges and if a little of the tapenade falls into the sauce — that’s even better.

March 01, 2011

About this recipe

And while oranges are not a local fruit, they are still in season at this time of year (OK, just barely still in season.) But before our local fruit really gears up, this is an easy salad to have with just about any main dish this time of year.

Olive bars at almost every grocery market in town these days provide lots of olive combination possibilities. I must have some Kalamata olives in this, as well as a few of the big green Sicilian-style. Just please don’t use canned black olives — you need the saltier olives with some of their oil in this dish. The tapenade is also a great appetizer as a spread on baguette slices.


  1. With your fingers, strip the thyme leaves off the stems. You should have a generous teaspoon. Discard the stems.
  2. With a sharp paring knife, cut the peel and white pith off the oranges. Slice the oranges into ½-inch-thick slices. Arrange them attractively on small plates or a serving platter.
  3. Put the olives, thyme leaves and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times until the olives are finely chopped. You don’t want it to become a paste — this should be slightly chunky. Add just a few drops olive oil if the tapenade seems dry.
  4. Spoon or drizzle the tapenade over the oranges slices, and sprinkle the fennel seeds over the top. You can make this ahead a few hours — cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Let it sit at room temperature about 15 to 20 minutes before serving — if it’s too cold you won’t get the full flavor.


  • 4 oranges (I like the color combination of the pink Cara Cara variety with the orange Navel)
  • ½ cup (generous) mixed oilcured olives, pitted
  • 6 or so sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Generous ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
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