We were instantly hooked to fennel’s unique flavor and feathery fronds while sampling it in Italy. Whether braised Mediterranean style with garlic, wine and Parmesan cheese, or thrown freshly cut into a salad with a simple drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, the unassuming member of the parsley family is worth trying. Many are adverse to the winter bulb’s subtle licorice taste, but we often feature the misunderstood vegetable for its versatility.
With citrus season in full force, we decided to make a simple wintery salad co-starring sliced fennel. The crisp, anise-flavored fennel is a nice complement to an intensely sweet, blush blood orange. Drizzled with a tangy buttermilk blue cheese dressing, this salad will brighten your winter blues.
Fennel and Blood Orange Salad with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
1 large fennel bulb
2 blood oranges
salt and pepper
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 c buttermilk
1/3 c sour cream
2 T cider vinegar
3/4 c crumbled blue cheese
1 T fresh chives, chopped
salt and pepper
Remove the stalks from the fennel, making sure to save the green fronds at the end. With a sharp knife, cut the bulb in half and remove the core (the tough section at the bottom interior of the bulb). Thinly slice the fennel crosswise into long strips as close to about 1/16-inch as you can. A mandolin would be a helpful tool, if you have one.
For each orange, place the fruit in front of you on a cutting board. With a sharp serrated knife,
cut away the pith and rind all around, curving your knife as you saw down the fruit. Once the rind is removed, cut the orange crosswise into 1/4-inch circles.
Add the buttermilk, sour cream and cider vinegar to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the crumbled blue cheese and stir, mashing the blue cheese as you go with the back of the spoon. Add the chives, and salt and pepper, to taste. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
Arrange the sliced fennel, fennel fronds, and orange rounds on your favorite platter or salad bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle the Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing on top and serve. Serves 4-6 sides.
While we love warming, hearty dishes in the winter, this crisp, light salad is a nice seasonal offset served alongside any steak or poultry dish.