Italian Sliced Orange Salad Is the Citrus Dish We’ve Always Wanted

By on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at 2:41 pm

orange slices with olive oil and pepper

I love citrus season. Sure, you can find oranges and grapefruits all year long delivered from a global network to your local supermarket, but the best citrus arrives in the winter months. Not only is the fruit fresher, but a lot more varieties become available.

I came across this Italian-style orange citrus salad on Twitter of all places. Bettina Makalintal tweeted out a photo declaring “salty olive oily oranges” are the best snack.

Her photos stuck in my mind. I kept thinking about the salad. She used Cara Cara oranges, and their slightly red color makes them look like gems. I kept thinking about the combination of sweet and spicy, the texture of oranges, and how citrus season was fast approaching.


One of my favorite dishes at this time of year is a mixed citrus salad. This is a basic salad made entirely of citrus fruits. I grab a pomelo, and several grapefruits. I like combining yellow and ruby red grapefruits. Because these are large, they are easier to supreme.

To supreme a citrus fruit, first cut the ends, then remove the ring and pith. With the pith removed, each slice of citrus is cut from the membrane leaving behind only the delicate fruit cells. The technique isn’t hard to learn, but takes time to master (here’s a video). A sharp knife is a must.

Larger fruits are easier to supreme than smaller ones. I’ve gone as small as Mandarin oranges, but most of the time I will get down to a few blood oranges and give up.

What I love about the citrus salad is the bright colors in shades of orange, pink, red, and yellow. The sweet and tart flavor is also a great way to bring freshness to a heavy winter meal.

When I’m making a mixed citrus salad, I start with the bigger fruits, and then add oranges — Cara Cara, blood, and navel. This salad grows sweet sitting in the acidic juices, and I think its a fine addition to just about any table. I try to keep the ratio as one pomelo, two or three grapefruits, three or four oranges. I squeeze the juice from all the fruit membranes over the bowl, toss, and serve.

Some variations of this salad include adding marshmallows, or sugar and coconut. This 1970s version is often known as ambrosia and it was a frequent side dish at my parents house on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. As a kid in the 1980s I was always devastated that perfectly good marshmallows had been ruined with coconut and mandarin oranges.


orange slices with olive oil and pepper

Crushed red pepper and olive oil make this a sweet and savory dish

The Italian Citrus salad from twitter is an entirely different kind of flavor. The olive oil and pepper flakes make it something closer to a savory dish, although its still rather sweet.

It’s an easier salad to make too. The pith can be cut off the orange and then simply sliced into medallions — a much faster process than trying to supreme so many fruit wedges.

This version is one of the simplest, but there are many more variations that expand upon the theme. One basic variation includes red onions. More complex versions include olives, pistachios, ricotta cheese, and fennel. Some variations are referred to as Sicilian Citrus salad.

I like the simplicity of this recipe. I bought a few oranges the other day hoping to finally get around to making this. But then I got caught up with a few other things and kept delaying. Finally my wife was cooking up an enormous romanesco cauliflower she had bought at the farmer’s market. The citrus salad seemed like a perfect accompaniment for the pasta dish.

The oranges sliced up quickly. I arranged them on the plate to maximize their exposed surface area, although I probably could have put them in a bowl to toss them. I sprinkled red peppers and black pepper and little salt before opening up the fancy tin of olive oil. It was a perfect little side salad for our wintery pasta.

orange slices with olive oil and pepper

Olive oil
Red Pepper flakes
Slice off orange peel
Slice oranges into medallions
Top with pepper, red pepper flakes, flaky salt
Drizzle olive oil just before serving

orange slices with olive oil and pepper


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