Spring salad: Blood orange and fennel
This week at the local supermarket I found blood oranges and I was so excited! This immediately took me back to my first days living in Italy when these oranges were in season and so delicious. I remember traveling to Rome for a weekend that same month and the local Trattoria where I was eating served a blood orange and fennel salad. I have always loved to make this simple salad whenever I can get my hands on fresh blood oranges and fennel.
This salad is so simple and yet just stunning on the plate, with the contrast of colors of orange, red, and purple of the oranges along with the white fennel and green salad. The taste really comes alive with the lemon juice and fresh olive oil. I have also served this drizzled with lemon olive oil as well and it's really delicious this way. The bitter and sweet of the oranges is a lively contrast to the crunchy, licorice flavor of the fennel. The mint leaves add an extra layer of herb taste along with the salad mix.
This salad is one that you can make and serve through spring and summer using regular oranges, but is especially lovely with blood oranges when you can find them!
Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
3 blood oranges (or any orange you prefer)
1 large fennel bulb
4-6 cups spring salad greens (washed and dried)
8 sprigs of fresh mint leaves (washed and dried)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (or more if you prefer)
To prepare the salad, start by cutting of the outer peel of each orange with a paring knife. Cut down past the white pith to the start of the actual fruit. Next, slice each orange so that you have round cuts of the whole fruit.
Now, remove the fronds and outer part of the fennel bulb. Slice the fennel in very thin slices with a knife. Start at the bottom of the bulb and work your way up. Wash the fennel slices well and drain. Place the fennel in a bowl and pour the lemon juice over, covering it well to keep it fresh in the salad. Sprinkle with sea salt.
To arrange the salad, I love to use a platter to showcase the beauty of the blood oranges. Start by placing a layer of fresh salad greens, then top with the sliced fennel, followed by the blood orange slices. Arrange a few mint leaves around the salad.
Just prior to serving, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
This is also good with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar if you prefer.