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Blood Orange and Fennel Salad

January 29, 2013

One of the words that describes my style in the kitchen is frugal. Peering into the fridge is a very fun challenge when I’m creating a dish. And if I happen to have a welcome surplus of a seasonal something sitting on the counter, then all the better. I’m still benefiting from the wonderful gathering of Food Bloggers Los Angeles where Nancy of Melissa’s Produce was on hand to distribute lovely and fragrant blood oranges to delighted attendees.

I later asked my mom if she knew about blood oranges from growing up in Romania and she replied, “Sure I do! They’re delicious!” Not a moment’s hesitation there. A little sleuthing revealed (click here) that they first appeared on the scene in Italy. In fact, if you order a glass of orange juice in Rome today, you’re likely to have a beautiful ruby-red juice placed before you.

blood oranges

I had a lonely little fennel bulb sitting in the veggie drawer. If this fennel was bigger, I might have prepared a fennel orange salad. Since it wasn’t, the blood oranges got star billing!

orange fennel salad fixins'We received anise honey as part of a gift basket last year. I’ve been using it sparingly and enjoying its rich, fragrant goodness throughout the past few months. Anise. Fennel. Perfect.

anise honeyThis was a serendipitous pairing. Don’t go running all over town if it’s not in your cupboard. Use the honey you’ve got, honey.

sliced fennel in ice waterWhy is this sliced fennel taking a bath in ice water? In the middle of winter? No I am not chillin’ my fennel or my fingers for no good reason. I read a tip somewhere in my reading travels that suggests this move for crispier sliced fennel. I think the fennel would have been better even more thinly sliced, even shaved, and the ice water trick would have been more effective in that case.  Alas, there was only so much thin slicing going on that day.

salad dressing ingredients

Don’t throw away those little jars… they make great salad dressing shakers.

orange fennel salad before ingredients


dressing the salad

All Dressed Up and Headed To Table

A good thing those blood oranges got star billing – the salad was a big hit with the audience, okay, with me and Novio.

blood orange fennel salad



3 blood oranges – 2 for salad, peeled and segmented, and 1 for dressing, both the zest and juice)
1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced or shaved, plus a few little green wisps from the frond for garnish
1 small or medium apple (sweet or tart),  unpeeled, sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1/2 cup
1 scallion (green onion), thinly sliced
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
2 t. honey
1/4 t. fennel seed (also called anise seed)
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt or kosher salt, a sprinkling to taste


Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise (remove fronds) and cut away the core at the bottom. Discard outer leaves. Slice as thinly as you can (or you can use one of those gadgets that I prefer to keep my fingers away from, like a guillotine mandoline). Plunge sliced fennel into a bowl of ice water. This little trick will help crisp the fennel even more. Not an absolute necessity, but a nice touch. Set fennel aside.

Peel and segment 2 blood oranges and place in bowl along with sliced scallion.

Prepare dressing by zesting and juicing the third blood orange. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and honey. Whisk or shake up in a small jar.

Remove fennel from ice water and pat dry on paper towels. Add to oranges and scallion. Cut up apple and add to salad.

Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss very lightly. Rub fennel seed between the palms of your hand over the salad. Add salt and pepper. Taste and add remainder of dressing or a bit less. Garnish with a smidge of chopped up greens from the fennel frond.

Serves 2.

Salad Variations:

  • Delete the apple and substitute a firm cubed avocado.
  • If blood oranges are not around, substitute a navel orange in bite-sized pieces and adjust honey to taste.
  • Instead of a green onion, mince 1/2 a shallot and add to dressing. Or thinly slice 1/4 of red onion and add to salad.
Actually taking notes instead of throwing it together and then squinting hard to re-create it.

Actually taking notes instead of throwing it together and then squinting hard to re-create it.

Blood Orange -Fennel Salad


From → Fruit, Sides, Veggies

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