Fennel and Orange Salad
My fresh Fennel and Orange Salad is featured on our Foodie trip to Sicily. I use blood oranges when I am in Sicily, but any citrus fruit will work. The combination of crunchy fresh fennel with sweet and tart oranges, the brightness of the mint and the saltiness of the cured olives makes for a great combination.
I have made many variations of this salad over the years, (you can see the salad pictured above was made with Italian parsley instead of fresh mint, and brined olives instead of oil-cured) but settled on this combination in my final version. The star of this dish is the crunchy fresh fennel. I find a Japanese Mandoline works best to achieve thin slices of the fennel and red onions.
Cut resistant gloves are a great, inexpensive way to prevent injuries in the kitchen. The safety hand guards that come with Mandolines can be cumbersome and hard to use, while these gloves give you the dexterity to manipulate the item you are cutting without the worry of harming yourself. Other great uses for these gloves are for shredding cheese or vegetables on a box grater, opening oysters with an oyster knife or removing the shoulder blade bone from a pork butt with a sharp tipped boning knife.
Here we are plating the salad in Ragusa, Sicily and in this instance I did not use the arugula but included the oil-cured olives.
Oil Cured Black Olives have a very unique flavor profile. They are cured with salt and olive oil and are oily, earthy and a little bitter, kind of an acquired taste. I like to use them in small quantities and for a garnish. Some brands tend to be very salty, but I find the Cento brand to be about right. Oil cured olives can be hard to find in supermarkets, so look in the “Italian Specialty” food aisle or just buy them online.
In this version of the salad I used pomelo (similar to grapefruit, but a little sweeter), ruby grapefruit and oranges.
Fennel and Orange SaladCourse: SaladsCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
1 large fennel bulb
1 medium-sized red onion
6 blood oranges (other oranges are fine if blood oranges are not available)
1/2 cup cured black olives, pitted and halved
4 cups of fresh Arugula
1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
- Orange-Fennel Dressing
1 orange, zested, peeled and seeded
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove any of the hard core. Peel the red onion and cut in half. Slice the fennel and red onion very thinly with either a mandolin or sharp knife.
- Peel the blood orange and either slice into round wheels or remove the flesh in segments. Discard peel and any seeds.
- Combine all of the ingredients but the dressing in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add enough of the dressing to coat the salad lightly and toss well.
- Serve on chilled salad plates with a drizzle of the dressing on top.
- Orange-Fennel Dressing
- Place the orange zest and flesh in the blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend at high speed until well blended.
- Dressing will keep for a week in the refrigerator.