Thursday, March 17, 2016

Orange Salad with a Smoky Spanish-inspired Vinaigrette

This is by far THE best orange salad we have ever made. The first time we served it we devoured it, then craved it afterwards for days. Martha Holmberg, author and creator of this Spanish-inspired vinaigrette, writes in her book Modern Sauces, “I’m addicted to this flavor combination. It tastes like the exotic vacation I never quite manage to take.” This salad tastes like an exotic vacation – what more can I say?

I first discovered this orange salad via Pinterest on the blog Pure Wow. Long time readers will remember in the past that I’ve made other oranges salads. In fact my original orange salad, a French Orange & Onion Salad shown here, was our introduction to several bloggers that are now good friends of ours. So never underestimate the power of an orange salad.

There are several things that make this recipe so special. First is smoky Spanish paprika, also known as pimentón de la Vera. It is rust red in color with a unique smoky flavor. It’s used in countless Spanish recipes and the key ingredient in an authentic paella. It comes in 3 types – sweet (dulce), medium-hot (agriduce), & hot (picante). Smoky paprika can be found in specialty stores or on line at La Tienda. 

The second thing that makes this recipe special is sherry vinegar. I am constantly reaching for my sherry vinegar when I make vinaigrettes and it’s easy to find in supermarkets and specially stores such as Fresh Market or on line here. To quote the site Serious Eats, who wrote why sherry vinegar should be your number one choice in vinegars here, “Sherry vinegar is loaded with complex, nutty flavors you won't find in other vinegars. And its 80 distinct aromatic compounds translate into more interesting salad dressings and crazy-good accents in soups and pan sauces that apple cider or rice vinegar could never hope to imitate.” 

The third thing is Aleppo pepper flakes, which I use on just about everything now and I cannot live without it. The Aleppo flakes are the bright red dots you see on the oranges. More and more we reach for the Apello pepper flakes instead of crushed red pepper. They are milder than crushed red pepper flakes and have a slightly raisin-like flavor. Aleppo pepper flakes comes from southern Turkey, near the Syrian town of Aleppo, which is considered one of the culinary meccas of the Mediterranean. I have yet to find them anywhere local, but Amazon & Penzey’s both carry them.

This orange salad is an elegant dish that I will serve over and over again. Recently for guests we paired it with Chicken Marbella, an old favorite of ours, found here. I can also see serving this orange salad with grilled steaks, roasted chicken, and of course it would pair beautifully with a baked ham for Easter. I hope you’ll find this exotic orange salad as delightfully addicting as we have.

Orange Salad dressed with Smoky Spanish-inspired Vinaigrette
Adapted from Modern Sauces by Martha Holmberg via Pure Wow, serves 4 to 6 (plus about ¾ cup vinaigrette)
Printable Recipe

1/8th of a small red onion, sliced paper-thin
3 juicy oranges (such as Navel or Blood)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus a sprig or 2 for garnish

½ teaspoon lightly packed finely grated orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons good sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 drops hot-pepper sauce such as Sriracha (or to taste)
Maldon sea salt or kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Aleppo chili flakes

Fill a small bowl with ice water and soak the onion slices for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Add the orange zest, orange juice, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika, sugar, hot sauce, and about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt that you’ve crushed with your fingers to a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine, then let sit for a minute or two for salt to dissolve. Add olive oil and shake well to combine and set aside.

Working with one orange at a time, cut a slice off of each end to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange on a flat end on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, slice away the peel, including all of the white pith, cutting from the top to the bottom of the orange, following the contour of the fruit. Turn the peeled orange on its side and cut crosswise into ¼”rounds. Repeat with the remaining oranges.  Arrange the oranges on a serving platter, overlapping them slightly.

Shake the vinaigrette well and pour a little vinaigrette over the oranges. Pour the remaining vinaigrette into a small pitcher for passing on the table.

Place the platter of oranges in the refrigerator. The salad can be prepared as much as 4 hours ahead and kept refrigerated.

20 minutes prior to serving, remove the oranges from the refrigerator and sprinkle with the Aleppo chili flakes. Drain the onion slices and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Scatter the onion over the oranges, then sprinkle with the cilantro before serving. Stir the extra vinaigrette well and pass in a pitcher at the table.

Cook's note. You may have some left-over vinaigrette. It can be stored in it's jar in the refrigerator for several days to use if you want to repeat the orange salad later in the week.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday. 

Have a nice weekend everyone
 and thank you for visiting My Carolina Kitchen. 


  1. A fabulous salad! I am addicted to smoked paprika.



  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I see two new items to add to my shopping list, the sherry vinegar and pepper flakes. Happy St. Patty's Day Sam-enjoy:@)

  3. Sam, I swear you must have sneaked into the last cooking class I took at Sur la Table. We made a beautiful orange salad, somewhat similar to this and used this exact vinegar. And you bet, I bought a bottle. I look forward to using it and blogging about the salad. And we served it with paella. My what a wonderful meal. Your orange salad looks beautiful and it reminds me of one of my favorites that I saved from your site years ago. I still make that one.

  4. I have the vinegar and the pepper flakes (Oaktown Spice Shop online has beautiful ones). This salad does look and sound addictive!! Happy St. Patrick's Day!!


  5. Lots of good information here Sam. Thank you. Will get sherry vinegar and Aleppo chili flakes at the earliest convenience. Your orange salad looks delicious. You have also reminded me of Chicken Marbella. You brought it to Larry's blogger get together once. I want to make it for a group that we have coming in June. Take care! Hugs, Penny

  6. Sam, Beautiful presentation! I've had many fruit salads over the year but your orange salad is beyond the norm given the spices used. Very refreshing! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  7. So cute when you said never underestimate the power of an orange salad..I have La Chinata and Vinaigre de Xérès..will search out Aleppo:)

  8. This sounds wonderful. I always have a can of the smoked paprika in the house. Someone just gifted me some smoked olive oil that I am looking forward to trying. I have not seen the Aleppo before. Will check that out!

  9. Looks like another delicious citrus salad - which we love

  10. I love citrus salad...this is delightful!

  11. Well, oddly, I have everything in the pantry for the dressing...even the Aleppo Chili Flakes! I do need to find some oranges. We do have to make this. Oh, if you haven't checked out World Spice Merchants in Seattle, they are wonderful. I order everything from them. They also have some great recipes on their site...check them out.

  12. Yummy that sounds delicious. Saved for use :-) Thanks for sharing Diane

  13. What a beautiful salad Sam. I can only imagine how wonderful the combination of flavors in that dressing must be!

  14. I have put your peppers and vinegar on my list. I love the rich look/taste of blood oranges.

  15. This is beautiful! Such a creative way to eat citrus. Thanks for linking up! Pinning!2..

  16. I know how delicious your salad had to have been Sam. I had to smile, I made almost the same salad last week for company except I added oil cured black olives.

  17. Orange salads when citrus is at their peak is amazing. I was exposed to smoked paprika while traveling in Spain. I know it can be bring a dish to the next level.

    The colors, flavors and texture of this salad is amazing.


  18. This sounds like an excellent recipe, Sam! I have smoked paprika and Aleppo pepper in the pantry so all I need are some oranges :) Can't wait to try it!

  19. Fabulous, Sam. We're crazy about citrus salads, but this one makes mine look like kindergarten! I have the paprika and vinegar, but the Aleppo pepper is new to me. Can't wait to try your vinaigrette.

  20. This sounds amazing -- I have the smoked paprika but will have to seek out the sherry vinegar and Aleppo pepper.

  21. Your orange salads are the best and yes this all makes sense. You are not going to believe what is already set to go out after my Easter post. Great minds we have!!!


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