Orange and Fennel salad is a delicious winter dish. The crispy fennel and vibrant oranges complement each other perfectly while having the substance to hold up to cold weather foods.
Both oranges and fennel are in season from late fall to early spring, making this a good example of cooking seasonally. The produce is at its peak of freshness and flavor as well as being at its most plentiful.
Fennel is a crisp, licorice flavored vegetable that is use extensively in Mediterranean cooking, Its texture is similar to celery, crunchy and slow to wilt. It pairs beautifully with chicken and pork, but is particularly good with fish. Salmon and fennel are a match made in heaven.
Look for an unblemished bulb that is white to light green in color with firm, green stalks and dark green fronds. The fronds can be used as a garnish or finely chopped and sprinkled over a dish for added flavor. The stalks are generally not eaten; cut them off close too the top of the bulb.
Remove a thin slice from the bottom of the bulb, then cut the bulb in half lengthwise. There will be a small core that can be removed if desired. The fennel is then ready to be used. It can be slice for salads or sautés or cut in large pieces for roasting or braising. The flavor mellows and sweetens when cooked while remaining more of the licorice flavor when raw.
There are many health benefits to fennel. It's an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting attributes. Fennel has high concentrates of fiber, foliates, and Vitamin C among others beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Oranges used to be a rare and expensive winter treat. They frequently found their way into Christmas stockings. Now they are plentiful and readily available and a great source of winter nutrients. Like fennel, oranges offer Vitamin C and anti-inflammatory properties. They are purported to help lower blood pressure as well as aid in preventing kidney stones, ulcers, and cancers.
This recipe specifies navel orange because they are seedless and easy to peel, making slicing easy. Any orange could be used, however.
Adding kalamata olives enhances the sweet, crunchy salad with a briny taste and pop of contrasting color. Using them is optional - the salad is good without them as well.
The orange vinaigrette is very light and refreshing. It is equally tasty on other salads and even works as a mild flavored marinade. Try using it on a spinach salad, perhaps adding some orange segments and sliced almonds for another tasty and healthy winter salad.
Orange Fennel SaladIngredients
- 1 bulb of fennel
- 2 navel oranges
- (Optional - pitted kalamata olives)
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp honey (or sugar)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Mix together the orange juice, red wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
- Set the vinaigrette aside while preparing the other ingredients.
- Remove the stalks from the fennel. Cut a thin slice of the root end.
- Remove the outer layers if they are discolored or thick.
- Using a mandolin or sharp knife, cut thin slices lengthwise in the fennel.
- Layer the slices on a serving platter.
- Remove the peel from the oranges.
- Cut crosswise into ¼" slices. Place the slices attractively over the fennel.
- If using the kalamata olives cut them in half and sprinkle the pieces over the salad.
- Drizzle with the orange vinaigrette, using only as much as needed to lightly coat the salad. There should be more vinaigrette then needed; how much you use will depend on the size of the fennel and oranges.
- Spinach or arugala mix well the fennel and oranges.
- Either could be layered under the fennel, or the salad could be tossed. In that case it is best to quarter the oranges for ease of serving.
for more information and expanded ideas.