Photo by: Colin Campbell

Bittersweet salad

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2 blood oranges (or plain oranges)
blood orange juice as needed
20ml lemon juice
60ml maple syrup
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
1/2 small radicchio
1 small red endive (red chicory), leaves separated
1 tbsp olive oil
handful of small red leaves
150g good-quality ricotta
20g pine nuts, toasted
100g pomegranate seeds (1 small pomegranate)
coarse sea salt and black pepper

I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is due to cowardly cynicism, combined with a firm belief that you cannot just create a momentous intimate occasion, especially when millions of other couples are trying to do exactly the same. It just feels a bit claustrophobic. But if you twisted my arm and forced me to, I guess I would choose this salad to celebrate the day, representing the more realistic flavours of love: bitter and sweet.
The theme here is red. For this salad I’d go out of my way to find an exciting combination of red leaves and herbs. I love the long, twisted red leaves of some varieties of radicchio di Treviso. Red orach, purple basil, red amaranth and bull’s blood (red) chard are also stunning leaves. Some tiny sprouting varieties, such as radish or purple basil, will also add character.
Serves 2 (of course)


Start by making the orange syrup. Take each of the blood oranges in turn and use a small sharp knife to slice off the top and base. Now cut down the side of the orange, following its natural curve, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to remove the individual segments into the bowl. Squeeze all the juice from the membrane and skin into a small saucepan.

Make up the juice in the pan to 110ml with extra blood orange juice. Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt and bring to a light simmer. Leave to reduce for 20–25 minutes, or until you are left with about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup. Strain it through a fine sieve and allow to cool down, then stir in the orange blossom water.

Pull apart the radicchio leaves and tear them roughly into large pieces. Put into a mixing bowl. Add the endive leaves, oil and some salt and pepper, and toss gently. Divide the salad leaves between two serving plates. Dot with the orange segments, small red leaves and spoonfuls of ricotta, building the salad up. Drizzle with the orange syrup and finish with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Perfect with

  1. Orange blossom water

    The magically exotic potion behind many of our favourite sweet and savoury dishes

    Orange blossom water

  2. Pine nuts

    These elegant and longer-than-usual nuts are for sprinkling and showcasing

    Pine nuts


{based on 3 reviews}

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  • Recipes Wonderful, though I adjusted the syrup.
    (01/12/2015) This was fantastic, even in a slightly simplified version: I used only red radicchio since it was all I had (no other leaves, that is). I also substituted a mixture of store-bought grapefruit and orange juices for most of the blood orange juice, since I only had the two oranges I was slicing for the salad, and I cut back on the amount of maple syrup -- much as I love the stuff -- since I didn't want it to overpower the dressing. But with those tweaks, the salad was excellent; the combination of the fresh ricotta, pine nuts, orange syrup and orange blossom water on the radicchio was interesting, subtle and addictive. Frankly, I probably wouldn't make this again as written, though; I did because I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand. In the future, I might simplify it; the orange slices and the pomegranate seeds were a bit lost in the mix (the seeds sort of fell to the bottom of the plate, too), anyway. I would also add some torn basil leaves or parsley, and I might try using some lemon verbena syrup I made recently for a dressing on a similar salad -- a testament, I suppose, to this recipe's ability to inspire!
  • Recipes Lovely, but -
    (13/02/2015) Yes, well, this is a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger review from the land of Tim Horton's, the Great White North, aka Canada.

    I can't get half of these ingredients here: really, HALF. The supermarkets have at last caught on to other Ottolenghi "specialty" ingredients such as zaa'aataar (Canadian pronunciation), and eggplant, but we are still sadly way behind with the idea of pink endives, blood oranges, and orange blossom water.

    We are, however, THE HOME OF MAPLE SYRUP. Yes, indeedy! And we'll be making our own shortly, just as soon as temps rise above the current -35'Celsius.

    Yours truly,

    Bittersweet Canuck xx
  • Recipes Fantastic
    (20/10/2014) "Ottolenghi did it again" was our comment when we had devoured the salad for two and finished licking the plates (good thing that we ate in).

    We made three small amendments:
    1) Substitute the ricotta with some mild and creamy feta. Worked very well.
    2) Threw our hands in the air since we had no orange blossom water. Did not miss it too much, but we also did not know what we were missing.
    3) Shortened cooking time by starting to make the syrup from lemon juice, extra orange juice and brown sugar (had no maple syrup, substituted again), WHILE we fiddled with knives and oranges. Since amateur cooks like us need 10 minutes plus half a glass of wine per orange, this saves you valuable time and gets you in a happy mood.

    Final comment:
    GREAT. Will definitely have this one again.
    But we are wondering why someone who can come up with tastes like these would have to find love bittersweet? Should a cook like this not be cherished and adored for everything he does?