Here’s the thing: as much as I love licorice, I don’t always love foods that have a “licorice-y” taste. I was so excited to roast fennel because I thought I would just adore it, but when I finally did, I was underwhelmed. So I didn’t go into this salad with high expectations, to say the least.
And, boy, was I wrong. I found myself picking pieces of fennel off of other people’s plates and out of the serving bowl (I know, I am so gross)! Thinly slicing the bulbs was crucial — the thick wedges I had cut to roast never got tender enough.
The dressing was a big success, as well. For grilling, roasting, or other cooking at high temperatures, regular olive oil will do, since the high heat will destroy the subtle flavors of extra virgin olive oil. But for salad dressings, finishing soups or sauces, and other low-heat uses, extra virgin is crucial. We learned in cooking class that a proper vinaigrette always has a ratio of 1 parts emulsifier (mustard or egg yolk, for instance) to 2 parts acidic liquid (vinegar, citrus juice) to 4 parts oil. I’m not wedded to that ratio for everything, but it worked well here.
Finally, even though it is midway into January, I want to (belatedly) post some of the pictures I took around the holidays. So, although we’ve all taken down our trees and put away the decorations until next year, I still feel a little bit Christmas-y looking at these.
Fennel and Orange Salad
4 medium-sized oranges
2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1/4″ slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 shallot, minced
2 tbsp dijon-style mustard
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 cups field greens, washed and dried
Coarse sea salt, as desired
Freshly ground pepper,Â as desired
1. Peel the oranges with a knife to remove all the peel. Cut the oranges into segments, cutting around the white “dividers” between orange segments.
2. In a small saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and fennel slices. Saute until fennel has softened.
3. In a small bowl, combine minced shallot, mustard, lemon and orange juice, zest and salt and pepper, as desired. Slowly whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Whisk until blended.Â
4. In a large serving bowl, mix lettuce, oranges, fennel and dressing. Toss to coat evenly, and serve.
Serves 8 as an appetizer.