Sicilian Blood Orange Salad with Shrimp

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Insalata di Aranci Pattuali e Gamberi

Blood Orange - Shrimp_01

Buon giorno!

It’s funny how sometimes the simplest of dishes can really pack a whallop! SICILIAN BLOOD ORANGE SALAD WITH SHRIMP is one of those. Whether you make this beautiful salad with or without the shrimp, it is a visual paradise as well as a temptress for the palate.

Tradition: This gorgeous salad has its roots in Sicily, specifically Palermo, among the HUGE oranges grown there. Everything in Sicily seems bigger, brighter, bolder.  The Orange Salad, using any type of orange, is almost a staple for the Sicilian table. It is very common to find oranges of any variety at the table at Easter in many Italian homes. We always had them in our Easter Antipasto, sliced as an accompaniment to the Basket Cheese, Mozzarella, and spring onions. When Blood Oranges are out of reach, any wonderful orange can step in as an “under study”. Navel Oranges are nice and sweet and offer a great alternative to the Blood Oranges if you can’t find them.

However,  when you can get them, Blood Oranges with their remarkable color and distinctive taste are a perfect choice, I think, to make the Orange Salad a little brighter, somewhat different, and definitely more special. These oranges fall somewhere between a pomelo and a tangerine and can be a little tart. Some say they even taste a little on the raspberry side rather than orange. If you are unfamiliar with this variety, take a look at this:

Blood Orange Martini_03

Now you understand why they call them “Blood Oranges”. The meat of the orange is red. Like much of Sicilian cuisine, the Arab influence is present in these oranges, as most agree that they brought them along for the ride during the “conquering years”. These succulent crimson delights, with their antioxidant properties, have been grown in Sicilian groves since the 18th century and are the numero uno of oranges in all of Italy.They happen to be seasonal right now, and it is a perfect time to think about serving them in all sorts of ways.

Unconventional: The traditional version of this recipe is made without shrimp and is served as a side dish. It pairs especially well with almost any grilled meat or fish.  As for the addition of the shrimp – I just like ‘em! This salad is a winner in my book either way. When using the shrimp, note that I like to grill or roast them for much better flavor. For today, let’s choose a different path and use the shrimp which kind of dress up the salad and make it a meal, if you wish. YES, it’s one of those dishes that just begs to be served On the Patio!! You must know how I love those!

What’s the big deal? OK – so why make such a big hoo-ha out of oranges on a plate? Let me clue you in on a little secret: the Sicilians knew what they were doing with these oranges. It isn’t only the oranges that knock this one out of the park – although they help. Once again, it is the combination of select fresh and wonderful ingredients, simple and basic on their own, that come together and to pack a major punch for your taste buds. Something happens when the oranges mingle with the red onions, capers, pignolis, fennel, basil, olives and that most brilliant of ingredients – a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is the time to get out the best Extra Virgin you can afford.

Make this dish fresh, just prior to serving. Offered as a colorful antipasto, a salad, or the main event, this SICILIAN BLOOD ORANGE SALAD WITH SHRIMP  or Insalata di Aranci Pattuali e Gamberi is one amazing dish!


Blood Orange - Shrimp_03

Serves: 4

Prep: 35 minutes


1 lb. Large or Extra Large Shrimp, peeled, cleaned (optional)

5 1/2 Blood Oranges (or Navel Oranges if you can’t find Blood Oranges) – peeled and sliced

1 Fresh Fennel Bulb sliced (See the post: Makes Me Want to Cluck for the “how to” in slicing fennel)

1 Red Onion Sliced thinly

Handful of Black Olives, Kalamatas, Cerignola Blacks, or Gaetas

2-3 Tbsp. Capers – rinsed and drained

1/4 c. Toasted Pignolis (pine nuts)

Coarse Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh Basil – Chopped

The best Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can afford – time for the good one!


Toss the shrimp in some olive oil, add salt and pepper. You can even save 1/2 orange and squeeze the juice over the shrimp if you like! Then grill or roast the shrimp – a couple of minutes each side. Shrimp should be crunchy not dry. Don’t overcook. Set aside to cool. You can do this part ahead, if you want.

Arrange the sliced oranges on the plate.

Follow with the sliced fresh fennel and sliced red onion.

Next – scatter the olives and the capers on the top.

Sprinkle the toasted pignolis over.

Add salt and pepper.

Garnish the top with chopped fresh basil.

Drizzle with that beautiful Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

For a beautiful pairing: Try a Langhe Arneis with this! My new favorite out there is: Donna Anita Langhe Arneis DOC 2010 from the Piedmont. A Sauvignon Blanc would be nice as well.


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  1. This is a light refreshing salad.
    The combinations of flavors is exciting.
    It is perfect for those evenings on the patio.
    I loved it as an appetizer.
    If blood oranges are not available, navals are delicious too.

    Thanks Linda

    • Peggy – Thanks for trying this wonderful orange salad. I am happy to hear that you enjoy it al fresco. Some dishes just seem to taste better outdoors!


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