My citrus fruit abundance continues…a veritable tide of oranges rolls in every time I walk through the back yard. Fresh-squeezed juice IS very nice, especially when spiked with a slice of fresh ginger, a sprig of mint, or a few rosemary leaves muddled at the bottom of a glass.
Sliced, the oranges become part of my favorite winter salad, along with fennel, olives, and a drizzle of good olive oil. I learned a version of this simple recipe from Maureen Fant, in the kitchen of her apartment overlooking the Colisseum. (If you ever find yourself in Rome, sign up for her market-shopping and cooking classes.)
The fennel in my garden, planted back in the early fall, isn’t quite ready for harvest. It needs a few more weeks, but the bulbs should be nice-sized by the time the blood oranges are ripe. Meanwhile, I’ll settle for store-bought fennel to pair with the Louisiana Sweet oranges. Truth be told, the purchased ennel bulbs are always much larger than my homegrown.
Fennel, olive, & orange salad
- 1 large bulb fennel (and a few fennel leaves)
- 2 medium oranges (blood oranges, if available)
- 10-15 oil-cured black olives, pitted & coarsely chopped
- 2-1/2 tsp fruity extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
- Pinch of salt (not needed if olives are very salty)
Cut any fronds from the fennel bulb, reserving & finely chopping a pinch of leaves for garnish. Remove tough outer layers of the bulb. Rinse well and dry. Slice off the root end, discarding any woody material around it. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice the bulb crosswise. Scatter the sliced fennel on a serving platter. Slice the peels and pith from the oranges, then slice into rounds, removing seeds. Arrange sliced oranges atop the fennel, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss gently, using hands. Sprinkle on the chopped olives and fennel leaves and salt (if desired).