A not strictly Maghreb salad with orange, dates and almonds.
by John Pope on July 3, 2012
The other day I found a recipe in a book about Mediterranean cuisine, and they described it as a Moroccan salad. Now, I’ve lived in Morocco, and I had never seen anything like it. So, either I lived in the wrong bit, or the authors have a very free interpretation of Maghreb cuisine.
Anyway, I’ve made quite a lot of changes to the book recipe, and now it has absolutely nothing to do with Morocco at all, apart from the inclusion of dates and orange flower water, which are both hugely popular and cheap there.
Wherever it is from and whatever you want to call it aren’t really important anyway, what is important are what it is, and how it tastes.
It’s a simple salad of lambs lettuce, with carrot, orange, dates and almonds, all enveloped in a lovely citrusy dressing.
It tastes orangey and summery, and datey and yummy. Somehow it tastes even better when eaten al fresco and washed down with a nice cold bottle of rosé.
Notes on ingredients
Choose good juicy oranges, they should be firm to the touch and feel heavy for their size. If you want to sexy it up a bit, then you can always use blood oranges for the visual contrast between the green of the lambs lettuce and the intense red flesh.
If you can’t get hold of orange flower water, then don’t worry about it, just use half the amount of freshly squeezed orange juice in your dressing instead. It’s not the same, but it still tastes fantastic.
- 100g Lambs lettuce
- 20g Blanched almonds
- 2 Medium size orange
- 1 Large carrot
- 115g Fresh dates
- 1½tbsp Lemon juice
- 1tbsp Orange flower water
- ½tbsp Olive oil
- ½tsp Salt
- 1tsp Caster sugar
Toast the almonds in a thick bottomed pan. Keep them moving around so that they don’t burn, and tip them out when they have turned a nice golden brown colour on all sides. Let them cool slightly, and then slice them.
Wash the lambs lettuce, drain well and put it into a large salad bowl.
Peel and segment the oranges, and set them aside.
Stone the dates, cut each one into 6 pieces, and set aside.
Combine the lemon juice, orange flower water, olive oil, sugar and salt in a cup or small bowl, and mix well.
Toss the lambs lettuce well in half of the dressing and transfer it to a clean bowl.
Grate the carrot over the lettuce.
Arrange the orange segments and dates on top of the salad.
Pour the remaining dressing over the salad.
Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.
Chill for about 10 minutes to give all of the flavours time to combine, but not too long or the leaves will go all soggy.