For anyone who's been on a steady diet of holiday foods (uhmm, yeah, that would be me), this salad is the perfect antidote for overly rich meals and excessive amounts of Christmas cookies. It's a wonderful combination of flavors, and it feels light and healthy. It's also pretty and festive enough to be served for special meals, and because of the brightness and freshness of the citrus and fennel combination it's a perfect salad to serve with any meal that involves heavy foods.
Ever since I had a version of this salad last month at Cookbook Club I've been making it regularly. The elements of the salad can increased or decreased depending on your taste or what you have on hand. This version is fennel heavy but you could scale back the fennel and add more cucumber, radish, and onion. On occasion I've varied it by adding goat cheese crumbled over the top, or adding avocados, or adding smoked fish -- all delicious.
Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
adapted from a recipe in Jamie's Italy
2 fennel bulbs
1/2 small red onion
1/3 English cucumber (the long skinny type which comes wrapped in plastic)
4 or 5 radishes
3 blood oranges (or use naval oranges, Cara Cara oranges, or a combination)
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Take the stalks off the fennel bulbs, reserving some of the fronds for garnishing. Halve the fennel bulb from top to bottom. Take the outer layer off if it doesn't look fresh, and remove the core. Slice the fennel as thinly as possible either with a mandoline or with a knife. Half or quarter the pieces so they are bite-sized.
2. Slice the onion, cucumber, and radishes so they are as thin as possible. Paper thin is what you're going for here. Toss with salt.
3. Cut the oranges by slicing off the top and bottom, and then slicing off the skin from the top to bottom, cutting deeply enough to take the pith (the white coating) with it. Then slice the orange horizontally.
4. Add vinegar, oil, a pinch of salt and grindings of pepper to a small jar. Shake the jar to combine. Taste for flavor by dipping a piece of sliced vegetable in it and add additional salt, vinegar, or pepper if needed.
5. Add vegetables and orange slices to the salad bowl. Add enough dressing to moisten and toss. Taste for seasoning again and adjust if needed. Garnish salad with fennel fronds and serve.