This Fennel and Orange salad is a taste of Italy! Celebrating the flavors of citrus fruits abundant in Sicily, this salad begins with pickled fennel that is delicate, crisp and full of flavor. The fennel is paired with sweet, juicy, blood oranges, tossed with some oil-cured black olives for a briny contrast. Tossing together in a fresh mint dressing makes this a winner for anytime of the year.
What's in this Fennel Salad?
In Sicily, citrus fruits are abundant. Tarocco or blood oranges, are native to Italy and the most prized variety because of its sweet juiciness. And, it is easy to peel making it ideal to add to salads.
Ingredients change from home to home for the classic Sicilian winter salad. The simplest version is made of orange wedges seasoned with salt and olive oil. This recipe is more elaborate, including pickled fennel, olives and a fresh mint vinaigrette with a splash of vanilla.
Sallie, my neighbor who is married to a Sicilian, introduced me to a classic Sicilian Orange, Fennel and Olive salad. After a taste test, Sallie deemed this fennel salad with blood oranges a keeper!
Here’s what’s in this Fennel Salad:
- Pickled Fennel or 1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly - Dining at Fika in Minneapolis, I tasted my first pickled fennel with blood oranges in a salad – I was hooked. This recipe takes what I love about the classic Sicilian winter salad, using pickled fennel – check out the recipe - and tosses it with my OT42 fresh mint vinaigrette found in the recipe card below.
- Blood Oranges
- Oil-cured black olives or a Mix of Greek Olives
- Fresh Mint Dressing made with pear-infused vinegar, honey, lemon juice, mint, vanilla and olive oil. Find the measurements in the recipe card and helpful tips for making mint vinaigrette below in the Tips & Tricks section.
How to make fresh mint dressing
The fresh mint dressing is what carries this fennel, orange and olive salad. The flavor is mint, bright and tangy from the pear vinegar and balanced with a touch of vanilla and honey.
Making mint dressing is easy, but it can be a challenge to get the perfect emulsion: that’s when the oil and vinegar combine into a creamy texture instead of separating.
Over the years, I’ve found a few tips for making a perfect emulsion:
- Use a medium-sized bowl to allow for enough movement of the whisk. Trust me on this one, I’ve done it in small bowls or jars and it’s almost impossible to get the oil and vinegar to meld and not separate.
- Whisk the ingredients by hand or use a hand blender. Start with the vinegar, mint, honey and vanilla.
- Add the olive oil slowly and gradually: I typically add it tablespoon by tablespoon and whisk in between until the oil fully incorporates. If using a hand blender you can add slowly a steady stream of oil.
- Add Salt and Pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you like it sweeter add more honey, if you want more of a vanilla hit, add about ¼ teaspoon at a time.
How to Segment an Orange (Perfect for a Salad)
I have always wondered how restaurants remove the pith and segment of an orange making it look so appetizing. The pith of an orange is the stringy, spongy white stuff between the peel (or zest) and the fruit.
I find it difficult to remove. During a cooking lesson with @GavinKeyson, Owner and Executive Chef of Spoon and Stable, we were taught how to segment an orange.
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Fennel Salad with Oranges and a Fresh Mint Dressing
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- 1 blood orange
- Pickled Fennel using the PIckled Fennel Recipe or 1 small fennel bulb, stalks discarded bulb halved, cored, and sliced thin
- 2 Tablespoons pitted oil-cured black olives, sliced thin
Fresh Mint Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ bunch fresh mint,
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 2 Tablespoons champagne/pear-infused/white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Make the Mint Dressing. Watch the video or read the section: How to Make Mint Dressing. I recommend making the entire dressing recipe and saving leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature prior to serving.
- Assemble the Salad. Cut away peel and pith from oranges. Quarter oranges, then slice crosswise into ½-inch thick pieces.Combine Oranges and any accumulated juices, fennel, olives in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
Your Notes, Tips and Tricks
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.