I’m pretty sure I owe you a winter salad. My last post was all about eating whatever the heck I want (a sprouts salad, because I’m a badass like that), but this one is all about embracing the chilly season. It is also about simplicity. Fennel, oranges, olives, and an easy-as-sin dressing. Just three seemingly disparate ingredients which, when combined together, produce an insanely flavourful and refreshing salad.
This makes a great post-dinner salad, since fennel is a natural palette cleanser and the sweetness of the oranges makes it feel like dessert. Oranges are in season right now so simply choose your favourite variety and run with it. I’ve made this with blood oranges and it was as pretty as it was delicious, though my preference here is still naval. This is a good time of year for fennel as well. When choosing your bulbs, go for the smallest you can find, as they are much sweeter tasting.
A fennel anecdote
When Conor and I were in Venice we went to the big farmer’s market along the canal to buy some produce, olives, and cheeses. Generally speaking, the rule is that you ask for what you want and they bag it for you – no touching. So while picking out tomatoes, eggplant, and the other elements of our supper that evening, I pointed to a large fennel bulb that looked promising. The venditore literally refused to sell it to me, explaining in half English, half Italian, and a universally understood gesture (kissing her fingertips and tossing them away) that the smaller bulbs are much more dolce, bellissimo. I’ve never looked back since.
P.S. Conor is a notorious fennel hater, and even he had to admit that this salad is fantastic. I promise, if you forget what you think you know about fennel and just give it a go, you won’t regret it!
Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad (serves 4)
~ Gluten free, vegan, soy free, nut free, added sugar free ~
For the salad
- 3 small bulbs fennel or 2 large, thinly sliced and fronds reserved
- 2 naval or blood oranges, peeled, sectioned, and halved
- 10 black olives, diced
For the dressing
- 3 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1.5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp anise seeds
- sea salt and black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the fennel, oranges, shallots, and olives.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Combine, mix well, and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.