I was hesitant about preparing this salad because it is only dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. As a result, I was careful in my selection of the olive oil. I decided to use California Sevillano — a complex oil that mixes olive notes with lots of floral and herbal notes. The fennel is sliced on a mandoline to produce thin, uniform slices. The fennel slices are tossed with lemon juice and then combined with orange segments and small nicoise olives. The salad is finished with a drizzle of EVOO, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, and a light sprinkling of fennel fronds. To be honest, the flavors complimented each other beautifully without any interference from a heavy dressing. And, of course, I saved some additional fennel fronds to make some Fennel Orange Butter.
ORANGE, FENNEL, AND OLIVE SALAD WITH RED-PEPPER FLAKES (Serves 4)
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, with 1 to 2 tablespoons fronds reserved
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 oranges
- 1/4 cup small olives, such as Nicoise
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- Red-pepper flakes
- Halve, core, and thinly slice fennel bulb (preferably on a mandoline). In a bowl, toss fennel with lemon juice.
- Slice away peel and pith of oranges and cut flesh into segments. Add to bowl with fennel and stir in olives, reserved fennel fronds, and olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and red-pepper flakes.