In Sicily, citrus fruits (agrumi) are enjoyed as a savory as well as a sweet, usually served between courses or at the end of a meal. A salad—called pirettu—is made from thick-skinned citrons (cedri). The green rind is peeled off, the center pulp is discarded, and the pith is sliced and dressed with salt, pepper, oil, and a pinch of sugar.
Here’s another citrus salad popular in Sicily, especially in the winter months when oranges are at their best. Customarily it is made with blood oranges—sanguine or tarocche—and that’s the way I like it best, though any small, juicy oranges will be delicious.
Serve this in the Sicilian style, laying the rounds of orange and rings of red onion artfully on a platter, with the dressing drizzled over, rather than tossing everything together. It is a great as an appetizer, a refreshing end-of-the-meal salad, or as an accompaniment to boiled or grilled meats.
- 8 (or more) small blood oranges or other oranges
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil or to taste
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt or to taste
- Fresh coarsely ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, shave off the peel and pith of each orange completely, exposing the flesh of the fruit. Slice the oranges into rounds about 1/3-inch thick (you’ll have about 4 cups of slices in all). Handle them gently so they remain intact.
Peel the onion and slice it into very thin rounds (about 1-1/2 cups in all).
Lay out the orange rounds on a serving platter prettily (I pile up all the broken pieces in the center, making a colorful mound). Separate the onion rings and scatter all over the oranges.
Sprinkle the salt over the top. Grind lots of coarse pepper over the top. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of your best olive oil all over the top. Shower the parsley over all. And serve!