I love the simple flavours of this salad. The acidity of the oranges. The sweetness of the fennel. And – above all – how divinely colourful it looks. It is in fact my favourite salad of the moment. So simple to make – merely a question of combining some thinly sliced blood orange with fennel and dressing with a drizzle of olive oil. I don’t even peel the oranges, as I think that the bitter peel and pith give the salad an extra punch of flavour. But if you wanted to – if you were riddled with guilt by this dish’s sheer ease of preparation – you could take the time to peel each of the four oranges. Hardly a massive culinary feat.
The combination of citrus and fennel is just perfect for this time of year, when spring is nearly upon us but not quite there yet. When the days still have a wintery chill to them, but the sun shines bright and the first few daffodils are sprouting in the park. Bored of winter’s heavy foods – those warming soups and stodgy puddings – as our bodies cry out for spring and summer. Yet the wintery flavour of the blood oranges in this delicate salad pays a seasonal homage to the fact that it is still February – albeit the end of February.
Light but with flavoursome body, this salad is ideal to serve for both a simple lunch or a more elaborate dinner – either on its own as a delicate starter, or alongside your main course. Perhaps with a roast chicken, or duck of some sort – oranges work so very beautifully with duck. Delicious. Better still – serve it with fish. It makes for the absolute perfect accompaniment to fish. We eat it alongside lightly roasted sardines. And nothing else. We don’t need anything else. This salad just doesn’t need for anything else. It makes for a heavenly and complete meal.
To make blood orange and fennel salad…
Serves 4-6 people as a side dish.
- 4 bulbs of fennel
- 4 blood oranges
- small bunch of parsley
- olive oil for dressing
- pinch of salt
Slice the fennel as thinly as you can. Cut the oranges in half, then thinly slice them – keeping one half of one orange whole and to one side for later – so that you’re left with thin half moon shaped slices. Combine the orange and fennel slices in a bowl and drizzle with oil; add a pinch of salt and squeeze the remaining half of an orange over them. Then mix up the fennel and orange slices with your hands so that they’re all evenly dressed. Place the salad on a large round dish and sprinkle with roughly chopped parsley. Serve as is. You’ll want for little else.