We keep a bottle of Pernod on hand so we can use a splash of its citrusy anise flavor in seafood from time to time to give it a Mediterranean twist and a taste of Provence. Pernod’s licorice flavor also pairs well with tomatoes and shellfish, such as mussels and shrimp. In the south of France Pernod is sipped as an aperitif called pastis. Typically waiters bring small glasses of Pernod on a tray to your table with a pitcher of cold water for diluting the strong green liqueur, making it turn cloudy and yellow.
Pastis is very popular aperitif in France, especially in Provence in the summer when it’s hot. Among the people of Provence there are strong feelings as to what brand they prefer. Some insist that the Ricard label is the authentic one from Marseilles; others favor Pernod. Pastis emerged following the ban on absinthe and its popularity may be due to the appetite of the Mediterranean countries for anise liqueurs, such as Greek ouzo and Italian sambuca (better known by the trade name Gillanno). As an aperitif, I personally think its licorice flavor is an acquired taste, but I really like to cook with it in some seafood dishes.
So you can certainly understand why I was excited to see a recipe for an orange and avocado salad in which the oranges were steeped in pastis in Sarah Leah Chase’s delightful little cookbook Pedaling through Provence. I had never thought of using Pernod as a marinade for oranges. Of course you could substitute ouzo or sambuca if you like. If you don’t want liqueur in your salad, you could certainly leave it out altogether. The salad would still be terrific. This salad is also very versatile throughout the year. In the winter blood oranges or clementines could be substituted for the naval oranges which I’ve used below. Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I’ve also crumbled feta cheese on top, which I thought would add even more flavor.
Orange and Avocado salad flavored with authentic flavors of Provence - Pastis
Adapted from Pedaling through Provence by Sarah Lee Chase – Serves 4
4 Naval oranges, peel, pith, and any seeds removed, thinly sliced
1/3 cup anise flavored liqueur, such as Pernod or Ricard
1/3 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 to 3 drops hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Coarse salt to taste (I like French fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt)
2 ripe avocados, preferably Hass
1/3 cup imported black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
Crumbled feta cheese to taste
Toss the sliced oranges and Pernod together in a glass bowl and let marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but not longer than three hours. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice and hot sauce. Season with salt.
To assemble individual salads: Place one fourth of the sliced macerated oranges at the top of each of the four salad plate. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits and skin. Slice each avocado half lengthwise into thin slices and fan the slices from each half onto one of four salad plates just below the oranges. Drizzle the olive oil-lime vinaigrette over the slices. Top each salad with a sprinkling of the olives and a few crumbles of feta cheese. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings.
I’ve entered my delicious Orange, Avocado, Feta Cheese salad with the flavors of Provence in Lazaro Cook’s Morning, Noon and Night Quickies Challenge. Click Lazaro Cook’s to see the details and the deadline of the challenge so you can participate too. I’ll see you there.