Fennel, Mint and Orange Salad
The fennel bulbs I buy from Stefano on Via Garibaldi are about the size of a small fist, but have fronds that extend upwards so that they sometimes protrude from the top of my shopping basket. This is in contrast to the fennel found on supermarket shelves, which tend to be neatly trimmed and polite. I prefer the unruly version because the herby extensions come in very handy for recipes like this one. Raw fennel is such a great ingredient, particularly when sliced very thinly; the intense liquorice flavour can sometimes take you by surprise.
|2||navel oranges (or blood oranges in spring)|
|1||small red onion, peeled|
|1||large handful of good black olives|
|extra virgin olive oil|
|flaky sea salt|
|1||small handful of mint leaves|
Cut the fennel in half lengthways and remove and discard the core. Cut off a few of the feathery fronds and set them aside. Using a mandoline or an extremely sharp knife, slice the fennel very thinly indeed.
Peel the oranges and separate the segments. Set 2 segments aside. Use a sharp, serrated knife to remove the pith and the membrane from the others.
Slice the onion as thinly as possible and remove the stones from the olives by squeezing them between thumb and index finger – it doesn’t matter if they get squashed in the process.
Put the orange, fennel, onion and olives into a very large mixing bowl and add a generous glug of olive oil and a good crunch of sea salt flakes. Sacrifice the 2 reserved segments by squeezing their juice into the bowl and discarding them. Turn once or twice, add the mint leaves, turn once more, and divide equally between four pretty plates, garnishing each with the reserved fronds.