The big feast is over. The last head has been bitten from the last chocolate bunny, and it’s time to pack away the rabbit collection for another year. Almost. Tomorrow is La Pasquetta, Easter Monday, a national holiday in Italy, a day that stretches Easter out long enough to enjoy una scampagnata, a languorous country picnic in the sunshine of early Spring.
Pack up your leftover torta, stow some glasses and a bottle of nice wine in your picnic basket and bring this simple salad along. The salad’s vibrant color and bright flavor come from a selection of in-season citrus, such as Navel, Cara Cara, Blood Oranges, and Tangerines. The fruits, selected with an eye to color and variety, are arrayed on a platter, and lightly dressed with bold and buttery hazelnut oil, toasted hazelnuts and tender leaves of new spring basil. This palate refreshing salad is a no fuss dish. Let your friends help themselves to slices of citrus.
I used Pariani Hazelnut Oil, a remarkably rich oil, derived from Tonda Gentile hazelnuts grown in Italy’s Langhe region. As good as this oil is drizzled over bitter greens, and believe me, it is awfully good, it is a delight over citrus. Try this oil once, and you will be hooked. The Pariani company makes a wide variety of nut products – oils, pastes and flours, along with numerous fine dried fruits and superior candied citrus.
Citrus Salad with Hazelnuts and Basil
A selection of seasonal oranges or tangerines, peeled and sliced to 1/4-inch thickness
Hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Pariani Hazelnut Oil
Peel and slice the fruit into circles and arrange on a platter. Reserve a few tablespoons of juice in case the fruit needs a bit of moisture “touch-up” prior to serving. (The recipe may be completed to this point a day ahead. Cover the platter very tightly with two layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate.) To serve, sprinkle a bit of the reserved juice over the fruit, if it looks at all dry. Drizzle Pariani Hazelnut Oil over the fruit, and dot with toasted, chopped hazelnuts and small basil leaves.
To toast the hazelnuts: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast on the center rack of the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and transfer the nuts to a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. Gather the towel around the nuts, rubbing the towel against the nuts to remove as much of the skin as possible. Discard the skins, and set the nuts aside to cool. Chop the nuts roughly.
Place the fruit on end, and following its contour, slice downwards to remove the skin and all of the bitter white pith, revealing the flesh of the fruit. Rotate the fruit and continue this process to remove all of the skin and pith, producing a sphere of bright, juicy fruit. Lay the sphere on its side, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices.
Pariani Hazelnut Oil is available from Market Hall Foods.
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I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.