Fennel and Orange Salad
Welcome to the beginning of The Buslife Kitchen! I have been working on this project since we finished construction of the bus, trying to get a head start on content. I have developed some really delicious recipes that I am excited to share with you, so when you finish reading this recipe, be sure to hit the subscribe button on the sidebar (or at the bottom if you are on your phone)!
To kick things off, I chose a really special Sicilian classic, the orange and fennel salad.
Fennel and orange are both cool-weather crops grown in that part of the world, so this salad fits nicely in autumn and winter. It really is a perfect dish when and where we are enjoying it presently, in that beautifully mild and Mediterranean climate of southern California in January.
We could almost imagine that we were at a little café in Sicily, were it not for the fact that we are in the middle of the desert, only miles from the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, hiding from all human contact.
Fennel is a somewhat unusual ingredient in American cooking, but not an unknown flavor. Fennel seed is likely more familiar because of its use in Italian sausages. The seed has a strong licorice flavor, while the bulb and leaves are milder, particularly when cooked.
The mild flavors of fennel and cucumber are spiked with bursts of red onion and orange, to create a truly elegant salad.
My addition to tradition is to add a bed of baby arugula as well as shaved parmesan and a sprinkle of pomegranate pips. The tender greens add a peppery kick and stretch those flavors into a dish large enough for the whole family, while the pomegranate pips add color and another tangy burst of flavor, and the salty parmesan balances the sweetness of the fruit.
Delicate and delicious. Simple, quick, and elegant. Can’t beat that with a stick.
Fennel and Orange Salad
2 Fennel bulbs, shaved
1 Cucumber, peeled and thinly slices
3 Oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
½ small Red Onion, shaved
3 tbsp Mint, coarsely chopped
6 cups Baby Arugula
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
Salt + Pepper
Parmesan Cheese, shaved
¼-½ cup pomegranate pips
This recipe is a great time to break out the mandoline if you have one, as thin slicing is the name of the game here. If not, that’s okay, it is just a bit more knife work.
Peel the oranges and slice them into thin discs using a sharp knife. Slices should be around ¼” thick.
Do the same with the cucumber, but feel free to use the mandolin here, if you have one. Slices should be ⅛”-¼” thick.
Shave the fennel and red onion to roughly ⅛” thick slices.
Add the baby arugula to a large salad bowl and dress with olive oil and white wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss to cover.
On each plate, place a bed of the dressed arugula. Cover the arugula with a layer of cucumber, fennel, and red onion. place orange slices overtop. Sprinkle with pomegranate pips, coarsely chopped mint, and shaved parmesan.
Either that, or do it all in one big bowl and let people sort it out for themselves.