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Fennel and Orange Salad

This week, I’m sharing recipes that were inspired by my winter CSA box.
Other than the bags and bags of potatoes.  I know how this person at The Kitchn feels, but potato recipes will be coming later this winter.

First up: fennel.

I’ve discussed the “what do you do with fennel” question before.  This time, I’m not going to cook it, I’m going to slice it thin and use it in a salad.

Raw fennel is very crunchy, and has a strong anise or licorice flavor. This pairs very well with orange.  This is good, because it is also the time of year where oranges flood into grocery stores.
Yes, I know that’s not very locavore.  I view local and sustainable as a goal, not an absolute requirement.  If I had to live without lemons, limes, and oranges, it would be a VERY long winter.

Recipe: Fennel and Orange Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fennel bulb (I used 2 small ones instead)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (a small two-finger pinch)
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 head of leaf lettuce (red or green leaf), torn into 2 inch pieces (or a 7oz bag of pre-cut lettuce)

Orange sherry dressing:

  • Juice from your sectioned orange (should be about 2 tbsp)
  • pinch of zest from your sectioned orange
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:
1. Prep the Fennel: Trim the fronds from the top of the fennel bulb, and then cut out the core. Cut the bulb in half, then into thin slices. Put the sliced fennel in a large bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp kosher salt, and toss to coat evenly.

2. Section the Orange: Zest the orange, and set the zest aside. Cut the top and bottom off of the orange, set down on one of the cut sides, then cut the skin and pith off by cutting around the side of the orange. (See picture below). Over a small bowl, section the orange by cutting in a V shape just along the membrane holding each section together. When you’re done, squeeze the juice into the bowl from the remaining membrane. Remove the orange sections to the large bowl with the fennel, leaving as much of the juice behind as you can for the vinaigrette.

3. Make the vinaigrette: Add the sherry vinegar, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, pinch of orange zest, and dijon mustard to the orange juice in the small bowl. Whisk to combine, then allow to sit for a minute for the salt to dissolve. Whisk the olive oil into the bowl in a slow stream.
*For details, see my Vinaigrette Basic Technique

4. Toss and serve: Easy way: Add the romaine to the large bowl with the fennel and orange slices, pour in the vinaigrette, and toss until well coated. Finesse way: Add 1 tbsp of vinaigrette to the fennel/orange bowl, and toss to coat. Put the romaine in a separate bowl, and toss with the rest of the vinaigrette. Serve by putting a bed of romaine on each plate, then topping with some of the fennel/orange mix.

Variations:
Like in my lemon herb dressing, orange and herbs go well.  I’d start with thyme, but any herb you like will probably match well.

Fennel, orange and olive salad is a classic Sicilian recipe.  Adding some olives to this salad is a great idea.

Notes:
Taste the orange juice/vinegar mix after the salt has dissolved; you want balance of sweet and tart.   I add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the vinaigrette if the orange juice isn’t sweet enough, or a splash more of the vinegar if it isn’t tart enough.

Don’t throw away the leafy fronds you trimmed from the top of the fennel. They are used as herbs, and will last for up to a week in the refrigerator. Strip the leafy part off the stems, and use it like you would use thyme or rosemary. It’s particularly good with white-fleshed fish; I used fennel fronds with my grilled trout recipe.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Grill Roasted Fennel
Lemon Herb Dressing
Vinaigrette Basic Technique

Inspired by:
Basics class at the Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson, Ohio.

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

3 Comments

  1. I do a very similar version to your recipe only I add very thinly sliced red onions that I’ve soaked in a bit of cold water to remove some of the extra harshness. It’s deceptively simple and the flavors go so well together.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe (and the variations).

    Tom
    Exploring Food My Way

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