Sicilian orange salad, a fresh taste of winter

Sicilian orange salad, a fresh taste of winter
Forti’s take: Fortunato Mazzone’s version of a traditional Sicilian orange salad, with fennel, black olives and mint. (Photo: Fortunato Mazzone)

In this series, I explore Italy’s cucina povera, the food of the country’s poor people, which is very much in vogue. In this edition, I share my recipe for Sicilian orange salad.

This Sicilian salad is typically eaten in the colder months when oranges are abundant. With oranges coming into season in South Africa, this dish is worth adding to your recipe repertoire for the cooler months.

Mint leaves and fennel bulbs add to the freshness of this version of the popular Sicilian salad, which also has black olives and a vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, lemon and white balsamic vinegar.

Orange and fennel salad is thought to have been introduced to Sicily during the Arab invasions.

Fortunato Mazzone. (Photo: Supplied)

The cucina povera, or poor people’s food, is absolutely in vogue in Italy and around the world at the moment. Even Michelin-starred chefs have seized upon these centuries-old traditional foods served on the tables of the common people in rural Italy, and turned them into fashionable food served in restaurants. 

These dishes are not only delicious and wholesome but often very cheap to make. Perfect for contemporary South Africa.

(Serves 4)


4 large peeled oranges

1 small sweet red onion, sliced thinly

One handful of torn mint leaves

2 fennel bulbs

One cup of black olives

1 lemon

50ml extra virgin olive oil

50ml white balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper


Cut the oranges into even round slices about 5ml thick, and layer out evenly on a large plate. 

Top this with the fennel bulbs sliced crosswise into little slices roughly over the top. 

Scatter the thin slices of red onion over.

Sprinkle the olives and mint leaves over the mixture. 

Squeeze over the juice of a full lemon and 50ml of white balsamic vinegar. 

Drizzle the salad with a little olive oil. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately for a bright, fragrant and colourful salad. DM

Fortunato Mazzone is the boss at the Forti Group of restaurants.


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