Orange, Onion, and Date Salad

I’ve borrowed the Mexican technique of soaking onions in an acidic bath–here, fresh lemon juice–to tame them a little for this North African-inflected salad. A dazzling, if unusual, blend of flavors, it’s an impeccable complement to a menu of latkes or other fried foods.

The salad is best served slightly chilled, so if you have time, cover the platter with plastic wrap before dressing the salad and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, peeled, very thinly sliced, and separated into rings
  • cup fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • large lemons
  • 4 Medjool dates
  • 4 large navel oranges, preferably Cara Caras
  • Lettuce leaves, for lining the platter
  • About 2 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon cayenne or Aleppo pepper

Method

Put the onion in a medium bowl. Pour in the lemon juice and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss well and let infuse for about 20 minutes.

Remove the lemon flesh from its rind and discard the seeds. Cut the flesh into little bite-size chunks, place in a bowl, and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Cut the dates into thin slivers (easiest to do with a scissor) and combine well with the lemon pieces. Set aside for 10 minutes to mingle the flavors.

Using a sharp paring knife, slice off top and bottom ends of the oranges. Standing the fruit upright as you work, slice downward to cut off the rind and pith. Trim away the thready white membranes. Holding the fruit on its side, thinly slice the oranges crosswise, and, if desired, cut the slices in half. Arrange the orange slices on a serving platter lined with lettuce leaves. Scatter the lemon-date pieces over the oranges and top with the onion.

In a small bowl, stir together the oil, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne or Aleppo pepper, and salt to taste. Drizzle over the salad just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning, drizzling with more oil, if desired.

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