Fennel Orange Salad

Before I moved to Madison, I'd never heard of fennel. But then, the feathery green stems started sprouting up all around me: at the Troy Kids' Garden, at the Capitol Vegetable Garden, and in our CSA farmshare box.

Fennel is a vegetable with a white bulb as its base, and green stalks and fronds atop. Both parts--the white and the green--can be eaten, though the bulb is typically used as a vegetable, while the fronds are used as an herb.
image from www.realsimple.com

Although I've now prepared fennel in many different ways--roasting it with other root vegetables, sauteing it in a stir fry, slicing it up raw for a green salad--by far my favorite way to eat fennel is raw with oranges and a light vinaigrette for a refreshing fennel-orange salad. Something about the way that the licorice-y flavor of the fennel mixes with the sweet acidity of the orange really does it for me.

This salad could be made in a variety of ways, with various additions and dressings, but the recipe below is perhaps the most basic, and delicious!

Fennel Orange Salad

1 fennel bulb, with greens attached
2 small-medium oranges
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (can substitute lemon or lime juice)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
other optional vegetables: cucumber, chopped broccoli stems (anything crunchy!)
other optional add-ins: slivered almonds, dried cranberries

  1. Wash fennel carefully, removing any loose layers of the bulb and wash separately. Dry thoroughly (the fronds have a tendency to retain moisture). Slice the bulb in half and then into thin c-shaped pieces. Dice the stems and finely chop the leaves. 
  2. Peel the oranges, separate into sections, and cut each section into small pieces. 
  3. Toss fennel and oranges with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, and any optional add-ins.
  4. Enjoy!