orange and fennel salad

I ate really well last week. By well, I wish I meant sensibly. In this case, well means dinner at Zuni with Lee followed by dinner at Zero Zero with the ladies. There was wine and cocktails and kumamoto oysters and roasted chicken and pork belly and striped bass and pizza and soft serve. You get the idea. It was serious.

After all that scrumptiousness, I was ready for a salad. I couldn’t stop thinking about this orange and fennel salad that I passed up the other night. So I knew what I had to do.

Oranges, actually, have been on my mind quite a bit these days.  I thought I got them out of my system with the marmalade mission. But lately I’ve been really into cara caras, a red navel orange with a little bit of complexity. And now that blood oranges are finally in season, I really can’t stop. I love blood oranges. I love their gorgeous color and cherry flavor. Plus, they’re full of antioxidants. I love those, too.

I also love fennel, which is fantastic paired with oranges. Shaved fennel becomes slaw-like when tossed with a little sea salt and vinaigrette. And the sugar from the oranges brings out the fennels natural sweetness. I liked it topped with a little bit of grana, which was a nice contrast in flavor. This is one of the easiest salads to throw together and so satisfying. I love the brightness of this salad, both in color and flavor – it almost makes you forget that it’s winter.

orange and fennel salad

serves 4

4 oranges ( I used a combination of blood and cara cara oranges)

2 medium fennel bulbs

1/2  small red onion

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

white pepper

sea salt

grana padano (for shaving)

With a paring knife, cut the tops and bottoms from oranges. Starting from the top, cut the peel and membrane from the fruit, making sure to expose the flesh completely. Cut oranges into slices. Set aside.

Remove the tops and bottoms from the fennel. Cut the fennel in half. Slice thin and place in a bowl. Cut the onion into paper-thin slices and add to the bowl with the fennel.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice and honey and whisk until combined. Season with salt and white pepper. Slowly whisk olive oil into the juice until slighty emulsified and well combined. Adjust salt as needed.

Pour the vinaigrette over the fennel and onions. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange the orange slices on a serving plate and then place fennel on top in a mound. Pour the excess vinaigrette over the oranges. Shave the grana over the fennel. Garnish with a few fennel fronds.

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