This salad was created for a dinner Abby and I catered and is all about reintroducing flavors throughout the dish. We have made this for our families around the holidays when citrus season comes to a peak and fennel starts becoming a popular player on menus. This salad is not only bright, but a fresh, salty, citric salad rounded out with sweet.
Pernod is an anise-based liquor. It can be supplemented with Ouzo or Sambuca. If I am making this in a pinch and have no licorice tasting liquor I throw the un-used pieces of the fennel bulb in the reducing orange juice and call it “infused” like any quick-thinking chef would.
Here we will use the flavors of orange and anise multiple times and in a few different ways to reintroduce the layers or flavors. The bold flavors of the ingredients warrant a stronger lettuce as a base for the salad. A light romaine or spring mix may be over powered by these flavors when standing alone. However, when mixed with a bitter green, the taste of the greens will penetrate through the citrus.
Orange Fennel Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 fennel bulb
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces feta
1 head bitter green (frisee, curly endive, or arugula)
1 head romaine
1 ounce Pernod (Ouzo or Sambuca)
2 cups orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil or other neutral oil
salt & pepper
To start the vinaigrette, add the orange juice and Pernod to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce until it has a thick consistency and coats the back of a spoon; there will be about 1/4 cup of juice/Pernod left at this point. Watch out for boil overs! Remove from heat and allow to cool before whisking in the olive oil and a pinch of salt. If you added fennel instead of Pernod, strain the fennel out of juice. Set aside.
Wash and dry the greens, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
Segment the oranges or simply peel and roughly chop. Squeeze remaining parts of the orange into a small bowl and set aside. You can add a few drops to the salad to brighten it up right before serving.
Shave the fennel with a mandoline or peeler.
In a large mixing bowl combine the greens, orange segments and fennel. Spoon the orange vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently.
Divide salad between four plates and top with feta, sunflower seeds and fresh orange juice; or toss everything together and serve family style.