My daughter Hayley loves fennel - but only cooked, never, never raw. Me, I’ll eat it however it comes. Anyway, I decided not to be selfish and came up with a fennel salad to pleased us both.
First, I roasted the fennel with slices of Meyer lemon, which caramelised as the fennel slowly became soft and aromatic, crisping a little at the edges. Then I combined these gorgeous things with blood orange segments, tarragon, little sprigs of parsley and some of the fresh green fronds of fennel. Finally I dressed with an orange vinaigrette, sharpened with sherry vinegar. This salad was not only pretty, but absolutely delicious.
To start slice 2 bulbs of fennel into 1cm thick slices. Do the same with 1 lemon; I used a Meyer lemon. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper - it’s ok to overlap the fennel and lemon a little. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, scatter with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper and put into a preheated 160C oven. Now cook this for about 45 minutes. You don’t want it to be brown and crispy, it should soften and just crisp at the edges. Test it at 45 minutes. If it is soft but still a little resilient to the touch, increase the heat to 200C and cook for another 10-15 minutes to caramelise the lemon and slightly crisp the fennel.
Don’t let it burn! Take out of the oven and let cool to room temperature. Now, cut the top and bottom off 2 blood oranges. Stand the oranges up and with a serrated knife cutaway the peel and pith in wide strips, working from top to bottom of the orange. Cut between the membranes to release the segments, letting them fall into a bowl. Repeat with the second orange. Arrange fennel, orange segments and lemon slices on a platter; scatter with some fresh tarragon leaves, sprigs of parsley and fennel fronds; drizzle with the orange vinaigrette and serve.
This salad also makes a delightfully light lunch when served with a lovely crumbly goats cheese, and a fresh baguette. Enjoy!
- 2/3 cup fresh orange juice, simmered until reduced to 3tbsp
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
Whisk together the reduced orange juice, sherry vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. This vinaigrette is a variation of a recipe of Thomas Keller.