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Spiced quail with blood orange and date salad

Serves 6spiced quail with blood oranges and dates on a white plate on a white table cloth.

Sweet, sour and juicy. If you find dates too sweet, you can cut the amount. Or temper the sweetness by tossing shaved raw fennel in with the blood oranges and dates.



For the marinade

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 tsp harissa
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tsp soft light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

For the quail and salad

  • 12 quails
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 12 medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthways
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and shredded
  • leaves from 1 bunch of coriander (about 20g/¾oz)
  • leaves from 12 sprigs of mint
  • seeds from ½ pomegranate (or buy a pack and use 2 heaped tbsp)

For the dressing

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (fruity rather than grassy)
  • 6 tbsp blood orange juice
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • drop of orange flower water (really, just a tiny splash)


  1. To make the marinade, just mix everything together. Put the birds into a non-reactive shallow dish and pour the marinade over them, turning them to make sure they are coated. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a few hours (overnight is even better if you have time).
  2. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/ gas mark 5. Put the birds into a small roasting tin and pour the marinade over. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the salad (or make it immediately before you cook the starter). Slice the ends off the oranges so they have a flat base on which to sit. Using a very sharp knife, cut the peel and pith off each, working around the fruit and cutting the peel away in broad strips from top to bottom. Working over a bowl, slip a sharp fine-bladed knife in between the membrane on either side of each segment and ease the segment out. Put these into a bowl with the dates, chillies, herbs, salt and pepper.
  4. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Pour two-thirds of this over the orange salad.
  5. Spoon the salad on to six plates and scatter with the pomegranate seeds. Put the spicy quail on top and pour the rest of the dressing over. Serve with bulgar wheat or couscous on the side.

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