When Sicilians prepare a Christmas feast, it more often that not will include a fennel and orange salad. That cool crunchy licorice flavor from the fennel and the sweet juice of those blood oranges makes this a perfect side dish for a festive meal.
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 6 blood oranges (see Note)
- ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp (45 ml) white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- Flaked sea salt, to garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time: 10-15 minutes
1. Cut the stalks off the fennel. Keep the fronds and set aside for garnishing the salad later. Trim off the base of the fennel. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Using a mandolin, slice the bulb into thin slivers. Soak the fennel slivers in a large bowl filled with ice water for 10-15 minutes to crisp them up.
2. In the meantime, in a small bowl, juice 2 of the blood oranges. Add olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, and whisk to combine.
3. Peel the remaining 4 blood oranges by first cutting off both ends of the orange, then use a knife to slice off the peel and white pith, working lengthwise from one cut end to the other. Then cut oranges crosswise into thin slices.
4. Drain the fennel from the water and put in a large bowl. Add the orange slices and pine nuts. Drizzle over the dressing and toss to coat. Arrange on a large serving platter in a decorative manner, layering slices of orange with fennel. Garnish with fennel fronds, sprinkle with flaked sea salt, and serve.
• Substitute other citrus if blood oranges are not in season.