You won’t find a more refreshing salad than this one with fennel, orange and olives. Enhance it with with tender baby greens, olives, shaved parmesan and the best extra virgin olive oil you can buy. I first had a version of this salad at a restaurant in the hilltop, medieval Tuscan town of Anghiari, just 6 kilometers from our town of Sansepolcro. The beauty of this salad is that it’s easy to put together, takes only minutes and, as most Italian food, very healthy dish. Hey, I forgot to add the parmesan shaves to the dish above!
So start with a gorgeous bulb of fennel, finocchio, and a luscious orange, arancia. A blood or a cava cava orange is best but you can also use a navel. You can even substitute the orange for another citrus fruit such as a grapefruit. Get a sharp knife, but you won’t need it for the fennel, only the orange.
First A Word About Winter Oranges
Let Sunkist enlighten you about winter oranges. Both blood and Cara Cara oranges are available in the U.S. from January through April. Navels hit the markets from November through May. You may find imported oranges during the rest of the year.
Fennel, fortunately, can be found all year round and that’s good news because I can’t get enough of it. For this salad, use a mandolin and carefully thinly slice the fennel for your salad. If you don’t use a mandolin, get out a coupon and go get one at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If you don’t have a coupon, I’ll send you one as I have a drawer-full. Anyhow, one small bulb will do for a salad for four. If you have a larger bulb and have any left over fennel, through it into the pan with the rest of your soffrito when you make your next pasta sauce. Capita?
Carve up your orange. Here’s I’ve cut off the peel. Then I put the orange on its side and sliced it into quarter-inch rounds.
I use a vegetable peeler to shave parmesan cheese. It’s quick and easy.
Add your oil and the olives and you’re in business!
Fennel, Orange and Olive Salad
Yield: 4 servings
Total Time: 20 minutes
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 2 cara cara or blood oranges
- 1 wedge of parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of baby arugula leaves, washed and dried (optional)
- about 20 black olives
- olive oil to taste
- Cut the ends off the fennel bulb and slice it thin, preferably on a mandolin
- Cut the skin off the oranges and slice them about 1/4" thick
- With a potato peeler, shave slices off a parmesan wedge, about18-20
- Arrange arugula on 4 serving plates. Layer the orange and fennel slices over the arugula
- Sprinkle parmesan shavings over the salad
- Distribute the olives around the plates
- Drizzle olive oil over the salads and serve