Catholic Recipe: Insalata Di Tarocci (Blood Orange and Red Onion Salad)
Combine a dozen or so men with large sankes draped over their shoulders; ox-drawn carts bearing the image of San Paolo (himself holding a snake and a book in one hand, a sword pointing to the heavens in the other); squads of flagbearers and swordsmen; a cotillion of old men with black berets playing an indescribable array of instrutments (many homemade); a piazza packed with local residents dressed in Sunday finery; and long tables filled with all manner of food and beverage, and you have a beginner's idea of what to expect if you find yourself in Aragona in southern Sicily on June 29, the feast of St. Paul. (If you decide to visit the church however, you no longer have to fear the ritual called La benedizione deglie serpe, whereby residents presented snakes to the priest for benediction. The ritual was done away with a few years ago.
If you do venture to Aragona for this festival, the blood orange and red onion salad presented here is one of the many foods you're likely to sample. Although any type of orange can be substiuted to following is made with tarocci or blood oranges, which are one of Sicily's most famous products. Exceptionally high in vitamin C, strongly fragrant, and with brilliant red peel and pulp, the tarocci is widely used in salads, frozen ice cream desserts, and sorbets.
*Italians have become very fond of cipolle de tropea a type of sweet red onion that comes from Calabria and is not yet available in the US. To achieve the same sweetness, soak the sliced red onion in water for thirty mintues before using.
1. Peel the oranges and remove the pith. Cut horizontally into thin slices. Put in a bowl and set aside.
2. Separate the onion slices into individual laeyers and put in the bowl with the oranges. Add the oil and half the parsley to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss until all ingredients are well coated.
3. Arrange the orange and onion slices in a circular pattern on a round platter. Drizzle with the oil left in the bowl, sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and serve.
Make Ahead: The oranges can be tossed with the marinade earlier in the day.
How to Serve: On its own as a midsummer appetizer, followed by a light pasta, or as a salad course accompanying an especially piquant entree.Recipe Source: Italian Festival Food: Recipes and Traditions from Italy's Regional Country Food Fairs by Anne Bianchi, John Wiley & Sons, 1999