In the depths of blood orange season are we. My local grocers has become inundated with swathes of them – 4 for a pound. This is good news. More tart and vibrant than their not-so-gory brothers, blood oranges are well employed in the savoury side of food (see my recipe for Blood Orange and Couscous salad). Added to any salad, particularly this recipe for Blood Orange and Fennel Salad, they immediately liven things up, bestowing colour, flavour and a refreshing juiciness.
Blood oranges and fennel work well together on every level. When preparing a salad, a vital consideration should always be texture. Textures can make or break a salad. Too many textural elements can be overpowering, while too few will bore. So stark is the contrast in texture between fennel and blood oranges – one crisp, the other soft and juicy – there can never be a dull moment.
Whereas aniseed might well overpower the flavour of a “standard” orange, the robust tartness of the blood variety stands up rather well to the pressure. The additions of fresh mint, olive oil and salt add depth of flavour, making for a complex but wonderfully delicious outcome.
It seems almost serendipitous that the weather has finally improved and the sun is shining; the perfect setting for this light and scrumptious salad.
Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
1 fennel bulb
1 blood orange
A small handful of fresh mint, thinly sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A sprinkling of good-quality salt
Trim the pith from your orange, quarter and slice thinly. Finely chop your whole fennel so it appears as below.
Arrange the blood orange and fennel on a plate or presentation platter and sprinkle over the mint. Drizzle generously with olive oil and finish with a few crystals of salt. Serve as a side or light lunch.
Cost: As I mentioned, blood oranges are inexpensive at this time of the year – don’t you love the seasons?! Fennel is fairly cheap year round too. By my reckoning, you could serve up this salad having spent no more than about £1.