6 January 2015

Blood orange, radicchio and florence fennel salad

I love winter food: stews, roasts and pies feel right on cold, damp days. Sometimes though, I get the urge for a good salad. This is a tasty little salad with a southern European feel, using some seasonal winter produce. It works well as a starter, a palate cleanser after a heavy meal, or with grilled fish. The tangy citrus of the blood orange works nicely with the bitter radicchio and mild aniseed flavour of the fennel. Like all salads, it is more of a suggestion than a rigid recipe. If you like aniseed, you could also add in a small bunch of roughly chopped chervil. Before blood oranges are in season you could use satsumas. Serves 4-6.


3 blood oranges
1 head radicchio
1 head florence fennel
1/2 pomegranate
25g pine nuts
1 tbsp capers
1 stick celery

For the dressing:
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp vinegar from the capers
100ml good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toast the pine nuts, either for 5 minutes in a 180C oven, or for a few minutes on the hob in a small dry frying pan, watching that they don't burn.

Trim the celery stalk and chop into slices. Blanch in boiling salted water for approximately 2 minutes, before refreshing in cold water.

Remove the stalks from the fennel bulb (which are usually a bit stringy), and set aside the fronds, which will be used to garnish the salad. Trim the base off the fennel bulb, and slice it vertically into thin cross-sections. If you were given a mandolin slicer for Christmas, this would be the time to try it out (minding your fingers).

To prepare the blood oranges, cut the top and bottom off each orange. Then work your way round the orange, slicing off the skin and pith, leaving as much of the flesh as you can. Carefully slice along each side of the membrane separating the orange segments to remove the segments without any membrane attached.

Remove the leaves from the radicchio head, tearing the bigger leaves in half. If the radicchio head is large, you might not need all the leaves.

Wash the fennel and radicchio, drying the leaves thoroughly in a salad spinner.

To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, 1 tsp vinegar from the capers, extra virgin olive oil and a twist of salt and pepper to a jam jar. Squeeze out any orange juice from the offcuts and add to the jar. Shake vigorously (with the lid on!) to emulsify the dressing. Taste for flavour and add more oil or lemon juice if needed.

Combine the fennel slices, blood orange segments, radicchio and celery in a bowl, along with the pine nuts, a tablespoon of capers, and the seeds from half a pomegranate.

Add the dressing, and mix well until all the ingredients are coated with the dressing. Add the reserved fennel fronds as garnish. Serve.

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