Today’s recipe is one of my favorite salads to make during these fast fleeting warmer days because it’s super healthy and filling, yet so juicy and refreshing with that cold burst of orange flavor.
The first time I tasted this salad I was in Sicily, one very hot August day. It was offered to me by an Italian family member, and of course I obliged because that’s what you do when an Italian woman offers you food. I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again…the biggest insult you can give an Italian woman is not eating her food after she’s slaved all day making it for you.
So, you eat the food.
Plus, it looked delicious and has flavors that are right up my alley! If you’ve never tasted fennel before, let me explain. Fennel is a vegetable that’s native to the Mediterranean and is actually part of the carrot family. But in appearance it looks more like…an onion?
The flavor is crisp and delicate, and somewhat sweet, with a slight flavor of licorice. So, all you black licorice fans, this dish is for you! And even if you normally can’t stand the black Twizzlers, the licorice fragrance of this dish is very slight so you’ll still be able to enjoy this healthy & delicious dish. The flavor and crunch of fennel is sort of like a sweeter, more mild form of celery.
Sicilian Fennel & Orange Salad
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- 2 Large fennel bulbs, roughly chopped (If you’re having trouble finding fennel at your local grocery store, Trader Joe’s carries it year round in a package of 2 large fennel bulbs for around $3, I believe.)
- 4-5 clementines (or 2 extra large navel oranges), chilled, peeled and chopped
- 1 Persian cucumber (1/2 a regular cucumber will also work), diced
- Small slice of red onion, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, about 2-3 tablespoons
- Salt & Pepper to taste
How to Make It:
- Clean and rinse your fennel bulbs. Cut off the green stems and the base and discard. Peel off the first layer of fennel, as I always find this layer is tough and hard to chew.
- Roughly chop the fennel. It doesn’t matter how large or small the pieces are, but I usually aim for sections no larger than 1/2″ (or whatever the size is you won’t have to cut up to eat). Place into a large mixing bowl.
- Slice both ends of the clementines off, then peel each one. I like to cut my clementines into 6ths across the top (think of cutting a pizza into 6 slices) and then chop those sections in half. Add to the mixing bowl.
- Dice the Persian cucumber into tiny pieces and also add to the mixing bowl.
- Slice the red onion and add into the bowl. I personally can’t eat a whole lot of raw onion, so I keep this ingredient to a minimum (and I slice it up suuuuper fine so it gives the flavor, but is hard to detect). But if you’re a huge onion fan, I say go for it!
- Add a generous amount of EVOO to the bowl. Don’t go cheap on the olive oil, it should be dark green/yellow in color, because this is what ties all of the flavors of the salad together.
- Next add a couple shakes of Himalayan sea salt and a sprinkling of ground black pepper, to taste.
- Roughly chop your pistachios with a knife and sprinkle them on top of the salad.
So, a few notes on this salad…when I originally tasted this salad it was served to me with anchovies on top. And yes, I am one of the rare breed that actually likes anchovies. I eat them on pizza, and now apparently I eat them on fennel salads, too.
The anchovies are the salty component that balances out the sweetness of the oranges and fennel, and the combination is to die for.
BUT, I totally get that anchovies aren’t for everyone, so this salad can easily be topped with other proteins such as grilled chicken, or served on the side of a white fish entree. Actually, this may be really good served with a scoop of tuna salad on top. I might have to try that the next time I make it.
So, let me know what you guys think! Should I do more easy/healthy recipes like this for Fall?