Sometimes reading food blogs makes one think that every recipe turns out okay, that no foraged plant leads to food poisoning, and that gardening looks like paradise and not like scorched earth. I’m here today to give a poignant example of how NOT true that is.
Here’s the skinny: I took the best picture of my life (above) for one of the worst recipes that has ever graced my taste buds since my best friend of 26 years conned me into eating raw flour and water (we were five, okay?). I made a salad with, wait for it, avocado, fennel, grapefruit, arugula, black olives, and onion. NOT good. Sure, all those strong flavors cleared my sinuses, but the aftertaste was way too astringent. Besides, by the end of the salad, I couldn’t even taste the fennel, my celebrity ingredient.
So I tried again and this time decided to stick to a script: a Sicilian salad with just three main ingredients: fennel, orange, and olive. With fewer ingredients–one sweet, one salty, and one fresh–there was considerably less that could go wrong.
How to make fennel, orange, and olive salad
For such a simple recipe, there are some tricky techniques to master. Here’s what I learned along the way:
How to cut citrus supremes:
Citrus supremes are orange slices with the pith and rind cut off (SAD!). You might remember these from school lunch oranges, but don’t be deceived: they are quite fancy when they don’t come out of a can–and often fancy even when they do. Here’s what to do:
- Put on some Motown and get out a serrated knife.
- Cut the top and the bottom of your orange off and set it, bottom down, on a cutting board. Cut thin strips of the skin off to expose the orange sections underneath. If you have a thick peel, it pays to cut just the skin off on the first go ’round and then cut off the white pith on the second.
- Now, put on some Diana Ross solo tracks and get out the sharpest knife you own.
- Holding the orange in your hand, cut the sections out one at a time. You’ll do this by cutting just inside the white pith on either side and then sliding the section out into a bowl.
- If you want some more specific directions, check out this page or The Food Lab.
How to cut the fennel:
Now that the hard part’s over, here comes the other hard part.
- Cut off the stalks and the fronds from the top of your fennel bulb. They’re edible, so you can use them in a stir-fry, soup, or salad.
- Then, cut your fennel bulb in half lengthwise, then cut those halves in half, lengthwise. For this salad, we’ll only be using half a bulb, or two quarters.
- With your sharpest knife or a mandoline, shave the fennel into pieces as thinly as you can.
How to pit the olives:
You’re kidding…another hard part? Hey, I said this salad was simple, not easy!
- First, make sure you’re buying oil-cured olives. Personally, I prefer their super salty taste and their drier texture.
- Cut a slit lengthwise from the top of the olive to the bottom.
- Use your fingers to pry out the pit, then close the olive so it looks like no surgery has happened here.
How to sprinkle basil and drizzle olive oil over your salad, to taste:
I think we’ve got this one in the bag!
You may also want to pair orange, fennel, and black olive salad with one of these other salads:
- Squash Blossom Salad
- Kale Salad
- Watermelon Salad with Mint and Watercress
- Crispy Tofu Quinoa Salad
- Green Chutney Potato Salad
- Roasted Zucchini Salad
- Pesto Couscous with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Farro with Mushrooms and Walnut Dressing
A classic Sicilian salad.
- the supremes from 2 oranges
- ½ fennel bulb, cut into quarters and thinly sliced with a knife or mandoline
- 1 large handful oil cured olives, pitted
- a handful of basil leaves, torn
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt, to taste
- Add the orange supremes and fennel to a plate and top with the pitted olives and torn basil. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt, to taste.
- Enjoy immediately.
Keywords: vegan, Sicilian, salad, orange, olive, fennel, vegetables, fruits, summer, vegetarian, starters,