fennel and blood orange salad

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Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
Adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner via NYT and also his gorgeous book

I find it hard to remember how much I miss good tomatoes and sweet corn when staring at something I could never eat in August, which alone makes this salad nothing short of a miracle. If you think you’re not a fennel person, I beg you to try again. Shaved thinly and tossed with lemon juice and salt, it’s licorice vibe is neutralized, leaving just the refreshing part. Don’t worry if you cannot get blood oranges; any orange variety will do, and I think grapefruit segments would be delicious here as well, giving it a different flavor profile. Gutenbrunner calls for a couple chef-y things in the original recipe I never bother with in my home preparation — 1 teaspoon walnut oil, to toss with the toasted walnuts and 1 tablespoon of Pernod or Ricard to dress the fennel with the lemon. I mean, I’m sure they’re crazy good if you have them around but you will not need them to make this salad delicious and a well-deserved staple of all of your future winter meals. I enjoy the lime zest on top, but for efficiency of ingredients, I think 1 teaspoon of minced fennel fronds (the herb-y looking greens) would work well here too. If you’re looking for meal ideas, he recommends serving this with smoked salmon slices or grilled fillets of sea bass or salmon with skin.

Serves 3

1/4 cup hazelnuts or walnuts
1 medium-large fennel bulb, leaves and stems trimmed off
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 large blood oranges
1 small shallot, peeled and cut into paper-thin slices
10 mint leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest

Place nuts in dry skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, to toast. Let cool. If using hazelnuts, roll them around in a dishcloth (or, if cool enough, in your hands), discarding any loose skins. Coarsely chop nuts; set aside.

Slice about 1/2 inch from bottom of fennel and discard. Slice fennel very thinly on a mandonline, benriner or with a knife, starting with flat bottom side. Toss in serving bowl with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Trim all peel and pith from oranges. Holding peeled fruit over bowl containing fennel, use sharp knife to cut sections from membrane and let them drop into bowl. Squeeze remaining membrane over bowl to sprinkle salad with remaining juice, and discard membrane.Add shallots, mint leaves, olive oil and reserved nuts and toss gently. Sprinkle with lime zest.

Do ahead: While the mint leaves will look and taste best on the first day, I really enjoyed the leftovers from this salad for lunch the next day.

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