Fennel and Orange Salad

When I was in Cinque Terre recently, I ate fennel almost every day. Not because I ordered it, but the Italians use it liberally and in so many ways, it seemed to sneak on to my plate no matter what style of dish I ordered. I had no complaint with this, and loved it appearing cooked as a side of grilled vegetables along with some carrots, or semi-glazed and to accompany fish, or freshly sliced and a core ingredient in a salad. It has such a unique and distinctly aniseedy flavor. If you like licorice, chances are you will also like fennel.

My first real experience with Fennel was when I stayed with a girlfriend’s Italian family in Melbourne in my early twenties. Her mum, being a true Italian, tried to feed me constantly, and she seemed delighted that I was such a willing subject to her culinary hospitality. I had fried bananas for breakfast, homemade cannelloni at Nona’s, eggplant this and that…olive oil on everything. The jars of olive oil in her house were those huge commecial tins…which she poured out over the food…delicious. But I digress, fennel….one of the things that stayed with me longest because of it’s simplicity and fresh summer flavor, was her orange and fennel salad, which is why I decided to replicate it for the Italian night.

  • 1-2 large fennel bulbs
  • 1-2 oranges
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Good Olive oil
Wash and finely slice the fennel bulbs, discarding the pointy shoots that may be protruding from the bulb. Cut the skin from the orange and either cut into segments or slice in rounds. Gently mix together the orange and fennel and toss lightly with both olive oil and balsamic just before serving. You could also add salt and pepper if you like.

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