I wasn’t going to share another salad recipe, you deserve something heartier during these coldest weeks of the year…but here I am, with a gorgeous salad. So stay with me here, please.
This Fennel & Citrus Salad (not the most original name, I know), is the perfect salad for your winter table. The flavors are distinct, the ingredients are delicious, and since we first eat with our eyes - I’ll say that this is a gorgeous salad to add to your meal! The combination of fennel bulb and citrus isn’t unique to this recipe, it’s actually found in the recipes from Sicily, where wild fennel grows abundantly. My inspiration for today’s recipe came from a number of sources, most notably from David Tanis, an extremely talented recipe developer and cookbook author. His Sicilian-Style Citrus Salad recipe for the NY Times is well-loved, and rightfully so, but I knew that I could put my own spin on this duo of flavors to make something even better!
I know that I’ve written about the property of food and following the seasons when it comes to ingredients. Due to the teachings of both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I try to avoid raw vegetables in the colder months of the year, when my digestion is more sluggish and my body craves warming foods. However, fennel is an interesting ingredient that I wanted to highlight in the wintertime. Growing up in the Midwest, I did not eat fennel. In fact, I didn’t even know what fennel was! I remember being at a restaurant, sometime in the early 90s, and fennel was an ingredient listed on a menu, and I had to ask the server to tell me about fennel, and I don’t recall that she knew much herself.
Turns out, fennel is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, where it is widely used in southern Italian and Provençal cooking. The taste of fennel is distinctive, it has a licorice flavor (note that I love black licorice, so naturally, I love the flavor of fennel). Fennel has been used in natural remedies for millennia, due to its wide-range of health benefits. Luckily, it is gaining popularity in the U.S. and can easily be found in most grocery stores, so you have no excuse for not making this salad!
I used a beautiful blood orange in the salad, but you could substitute a navel or Cara Cara orange in its place. But seek out a blood orange, which are only available now for a short while, their flavor is different from “regular” oranges and their coloring is beautiful! You’ve seen plenty of beets in my recipes, I can’t get enough beets! And this week, beets belong in the salad, as they’re a natural aphrodisiac. If roasting beets is too time-consuming, consider using canned or pickled beets instead, they’re also delicious. Hazelnuts are not my typical go-to nut, but I really like them toasted, chopped, and scattered over the top of this salad.
I hope you give this beautiful recipe a try, it’s delicious and a piece of art, all in one! If you do make this salad, please let me know, you could even send me a photo to share your creation with me.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Fennel & Citrus Salad
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1/4 C raw hazelnuts
1 fennel bulb, stalks removed, fronds reserved
1 blood orange
2 small beets, cooked & peeled
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Coarsely chop the hazelnuts, then toast in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently. When nuts are golden brown and aromatic, remove them from the heat and set aside.
Prepare the fennel bulb. Wash and remove the tough outer pieces. Remove the stalks, reserving the fronds for later use, and stand the bulb on its root end. Using a very sharp knife, slice the bulb into the thinest slices you can cut. Set slices aside until assembling the salad.
Wash and dry the orange. Zest the orange, placing all of the zest in a small bowl. Peel the orange, removing as much pith as possible. Slice the orange crosswise into circles, then in half into half-moons. Set aside.
Cut the beets into thin wedges.
Assemble the salad. On a platter, arrange the slices of fennel to overlap slightly. Scatter the pieces of blood orange and beet over the top of the fennel. Garnish the salad with the toasted hazelnuts and fennel fronds.
Gently stir the extra-virgin olive oil into the bowl of orange zest. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad and serve.
recipe yields 2-3 servings
leftovers keep for 1-2 days in a covered container in the refrigerator; additional dressing my be necessary to freshen-up the salad
substitute your favorite toasted seeds or nuts in place of the hazelnuts, if desired
serve the salad on top of chopped kale for a more substantial salad, drizzle with additional extra-virgin olive oil, as needed