I love salads. I always have. I am definitely more of an herbivore than a carnivore; although I do love a good hamburger. Years ago, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti, us volunteers would occasionally get together in the capital for a meeting or medical check-up and our conservations would invariably revert to food and the dishes we were missing from home. For me it was salad. Weird, right? Let me explain. The one thing that we couldn’t eat were raw vegetables, that is, unless they were soaked in water with a little bleach for good measure for at least thirty minutes. Moreover, salads are just not a thing in Haitian cuisine (which is to die for by the way). So, for two years I would dream of big, crunchy salads and upon returning home, I think I ate a variety of salads at every meal for a solid month! No joke!
This particular salad has a special place in my heart. During the early days of dating my husband, he introduced me to Sicilian food at a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Trastevere in Rome. I can still remember the meal he ordered for us: a fennel and orange salad with olives, stuffed swordfish rolls and chilled crisp white wine. Everything was incredibly delicious, but it was the salad that stood out for me.
It was such a simple salad with humble ingredients which is really the hallmark of Sicilian food. The bold and contrasting flavors really packed a punch…crunchy fennel perfumed with a hint of anise, sweet juicy slices of orange, briny oven toasted black olives all tossed with a hint of grassy olive oil and lemon juice. Simplicity and flavor at its best. So, I decided to recreate this salad at home and with just a few ingredients you have a truly unique and delicious salad.
This salad comes together so easily and is a great make ahead dish since the fennel will not wilt when the dressing is added. If you want, you can make it in the morning and stick it in the fridge for an afternoon or evening meal. It is also great the next day tossed with some greens and a little extra olive oil and maybe an extra squeeze of lemon or splash of vinegar.
I love to serve this with fish (of course) but it also works really well with any kind of grilled or pan seared meat like chicken, pork or even steak. If I am on a vegetarian kick I will make a baked sweet potato and load this salad on top of it. Yum!
This a simple salad with bold and contrasting flavors that packs a punch. Crunchy fennel, sweet juicy slices of orange, dry cured black olives all tossed with a olive oil and lemon juice. Simplicity and flavor at its best.
- 4 medium size fennel, cut into thin half moon slices
- 4 oranges, peeled and cut into slices
- 1 medium purple onion, cut into thin half moon slices
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) black olives
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 Tablespoons of olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut off the tops of the fennels and then in half making sure you save the fennel fronds for the salad. Slice each half into thin half moon slices.
- Place in a large salad bowl
- Next peel the oranges making sure you remove all the white pith. I fin the easiest way to do this is to take a chef's knife and slice across each end. Now you have a flat base to work with.
- Take a paring knife, cut of the skin in a downward motion following the round shape of the orange. Cut the orange into round slices.
- Add the orange slices to the fennel
- Slice the onion in to thin half moon slices and add to the bowl (if the onion is strong, you can soak the slices in cold water for a few minute. Make sure you dry them well before adding to the salad)
- Add the olives, oregano, and parsley to the bowl..
- In a small bowl whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
- Drizzle over the salad and toss everything together until well mixed.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
If you want to serve this salad later, you can store it in the fridge, but leave the dressing off until you want to serve it. That way, if there is any left over you can have it the next day tossed with some greens.