Orange and fennel salad (and weapons of mass destruction) January 27, 2012

Generally speaking, anytime you find your dinner splattered on the walls, under the lamp shade and down your shirt you can bet there was something wrong with the recipe. But before you start pointing fingers, just know that I was something like 20 years old when I used fennel for the first time. Not knowing how to deal with it’s strong, liquorice flavor, I paired it with some veggies, rice and called it a day. It tasted like gasoline.

My boyfriend at the time, a generally well behaved pre-med student with a very tidy Clifton apartment, GQ magazines stacked by the wall and a giant collection of watches, had an unusual reaction. There, in the center of his dining room, he gathered his food in the palms of hands, tightened the congealed mess like a snowball and launched it clear across the room, sending it straight into the bay window where it smacked and puttered down to the floor.

Immediately, finding great humor in this incident, I counteracted with a missile of my own … which I directed aptly to the top of his head, where it had a glorious cascading effect, dripping down his face, down his shirt, to his shoes. And so began fennel war 2002.

I didn’t use the stuff for half a decade after that.

But people! Things are different now. My boyfriend, now my husband, still eats my food … willingly … without throwing it! Come to find out, fennel is really pretty simple to use, and really tasty – so long as you pair it with the right ingredients. For instance, citrus and fennel are perfect mates. Oranges take the edge off, fennel removes any overbearing tartness.

So, we eat this salad now with fancy forks and nice linens and without having to spend 45 minutes prying fennel out of the couch cushions.


Orange, beet and fennel salad

Just slightly adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, January 2012 – substituting regular oranges for blood oranges and adding dill and mint in the place of cilantro

Makes 4-6 servings


2 medium red beets, tops trimmed
2 medium golden beets, tops trimmed
4 oranges
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh)
1 tablespoon lime juice (fresh)
1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced on a mandoline
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup fresh dill and mint, tossed together


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle beets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap each beet in foil and bake for about 1 hour or until easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.

Cut all peel and white pith from all the oranges and discard. Over a bowl, cut between membranes of 2 oranges to release segments into the bowl. Squeeze the juices into the bowl and discard the membranes. Slice the remaining 2 oranges into thin rounds. Add to the bowl with the segments.

Peel the cooled beets and slice 2 of them crosswise into rounds. Cut the remaining 2 beets into wedges. Layer beets and oranges on a plate and add the red onion and fennel slices. Spoon reserved citrus juices over then drizzle with oil. Season to taste with salt and garnish with the herbs.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr. P January 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

I love your photos and this recipe is fantastic! I have a food blog specifically for people with food allergies and have started a new journey – 100 Days of Fun with Real Food.

With your permission I’d love to share this link as part of the journey. If you have other wheat, gluten, dairy or sugar free recipes I’d love to have you join us!


Borrastafary February 21, 2012 at 4:08 am

A relaly nice salad. I love your simple presentation. I will be trying this very soon. I was planning on buying a mandolin for home use and this might just be the push I need.


Courtney January 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

Sure thing, Dr. I’d be honored. Thanks for sharing your blog.


Stephen Sayre via Facebook January 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Love fennel – especially on pizza!


Stephen Sayre via Facebook January 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Love fennel – especially on pizza!


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