Ensalada Iberica is the perfect accompaniment to last week’s Portuguese pork, because of its sweet base of oranges and dates, along with an abundance of piquant onions and lemon-vinaigrette. This quick salad pleases our palettes. Its strong combination of complimentary foods is additionally enhanced with the spice coriander, which is also a “seasoning match made in heaven” for pork, as noted by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page in Culinary Artistry. Thus these two dishes balance each other, resulting in excellent flavors and joy unspeakable. 1
During the 1980’s, my extensive cooking classes in Montana included a group of twelve professionals, all of whom were friends. For years they came monthly for each new theme I presented. We grew to love each other, as I taught them easy steps in making glorious food. A grieving took place at our parting, brought on by my decision to move to Portland in February of 1986.
My strongest fan among them, Larry, organized a going-away party for me. He chose an upscale Chinese restaurant, since a travel agent in the group had hoped to take me to China, to teach native foods on one of her tours. At our celebration, they graciously presented me with a restaurant-caliber, 15 ½” x 10 ½” cake pan and a stock pot, as seen in my photos; how these have blessed my work.
At one of our classes, someone encouraged me to consider the then new concept of computers for my work. I responded that I will never do that, for it was beyond me. Technology, however, has enabled the expansion of my endeavors beyond my imagination.
Back then I wrote everything out by hand, as I constantly discovered new themes from various cultures and ages. All my research came from hard copies of books and publications; I searched for the sources of my inspiration at the local library, in an array of cook books, and in such publications as Montana newspapers, the New York Times, and numerous fashionable magazines. My existence was marked by creativity, as I developed my faculty for research. This skill was further sharpened by my graduate work at Portland State University, 1988-91.
Discovering truths in food history is what I do; it is essential that I know their validity. As a result, to this day, I prefer to obtain my information from actual books, which possess a soundness that I trust, over that of internet.
Both this and its subsequent post, on Portuguese foods, are from that early application of my studies in Montana. These entries provide exceptional taste treats. Enjoy!
- Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), pp. 159, 160, 268.
Ensalada Iberica Yields: 5-6 servings. Total prep time: 25 min.
Note: best to make and chill several hours before serving.
2 lg oranges (Organic is best for flavor and quality, as orange skins readily absorb pesticides; these are often available at a good price at Trader Joe’s.)
1 small/med red onion, thinly sliced (May use 2 small, organic cipollini onions; they are expensive, but so good!)
1 small can sliced ripe olives, net dr. wt. 2.25 ounces
1/2 c pitted dates, packed down, cut in halves lengthwise (About 1/3 lb is needed.)
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lemon juice ( 2-3 small lemons are needed.)
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Bed of spinach leaves or lettuce
Peel oranges, divide them in half, cut each half cross-wise in half again, so it is easy to separate segments (see photo above).
- Peel and slice onions thinly.
- In medium bowl, combine oranges, onions, olives, and date halves.
- Juice lemons with a hand-held juicer, watch market for this marvelous tool (see photo).
- Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and coriander in a small sealed jar; shake vigorously; adjust seasonings.
- Pour over fruit, mix well, and refrigerate until serving time-preferably for several hours-so flavors can meld.
- Serve on a bed of spinach leaves or lettuce.
- This is a favorite of mine, which I have made since the early 1980’s.