Colorful and tasty, this salad makes an excellent winter starter
It’s peak citrus time in our part of the world. Fortunately, oranges fit in everywhere, right?
Especially salads. In this one, orange slices cavort with the anise-like flavor of fennel and the peppery goodness of arugula.
The result? A winter wonderplate.
Recipe: Fennel, Orange, and Arugula Salad
You can use any kind of orange you like in this salad. We often use ordinary navel oranges. When blood oranges are in season (and they soon will be), we like to use them. Mandarins also work well in this dish.
When we plate the salad, we like to layer the ingredients: First we plate the arugula, then the fennel, and finally the oranges. But you can mix everything together if you prefer.
This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prepare. It yields 4 to 6 first-course servings.
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or wine vinegar; see Notes)
- salt to taste (a couple pinches of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (half a dozen grinds for us)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- ~2 pounds fennel (to taste)
- 3 to 4 oranges (to taste)
- ~5 ounces arugula
- First make the vinaigrette: Peel the garlic clove and mince it finely, then place the pieces in a small lidded container. Add the other ingredients (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard). Make sure the lid is firmly closed, then shake the container well to combine the ingredients. (You can make the vinaigrette an hour or two ahead of time. Just store it in the refrigerator until ready to use, then shake it again right before adding it to the salad.)
- Now prepare the salad: Rinse the fennel and remove the stalks and green tops. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, slice off the root ends of the fennel bulbs. If the outer part of a fennel bulb is tough, remove it. Cut each fennel bulb in half, then cut the halves into very thin slices. Set aside.
- Peel the oranges, remove their white membranes, then cut each orange into sections. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the arugula, then place it in a large mixing bowl. Add about one third of the vinaigrette, then toss to combine. Plate the arugula.
- Toss the fennel slices with another one third of the vinaigrette. Layer the fennel slices over the arugula.
- Toss the orange slices with the remaining the vinaigrette. Distribute the slices over the fennel and arugula.
- Serve and enjoy.
- We sometimes combine Steps 5 and 6 of the Procedure (tossing the fennel and oranges together).
- You could add some slices of red onion to this salad for extra zip.
- Black olives or chopped walnuts would also make nice additions.
- We like to use balsamic vinegar in this salad, but wine vinegar would also work. Or you could try lemon juice.
- Use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, because the flavor of the oil stands out in this salad. You could also substitute another lightly flavored oil, such as walnut oil.
- You can add fresh herbs to this salad if you wish. Parsley, fresh thyme, or dill would be ideal.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (because the flakes are coarser, so they don’t pack a measure as tightly). If substituting regular table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
Toss to Combine
“Wonderful salad,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Makes me happy to see winter arrive.”
“It’s pretty good,” I agreed. “Orange you glad I made this?”
“Are you going to squeeze all the puns you can out of this?” said Mrs K R.
“Hey, I’m just arugula guy, trying to get along in the kitchen,” I said.
“This is your fennel warning,” said Mrs K R.
Right, better stop now. Too much vinegar.
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