On a grey and dank Winter’s day, when even the thought of waiting at a bus stop or standing in the playground whilst your toddler heads for his five hundredth go on the slide fills you with frostbite dread, this little salad is a shining beacon of lunchtime pleasure. Vibrant, tart and crisp. Everything a winter salad should be.
I am a little ashamed to admit that when I encountered a blood orange for the first time, it was not love at first sight. In much the same way as I have done with my boys in recent years, my Mum proffered this golden globe like a precious jewel to behold. A rare, seasonal treat, which undoubtedly cost her an arm and a leg, but which she was excited and happy to share with me.
I wasn’t a squeamish child, but I just could not see past the word ‘blood’. I truly believed that this precious orange had been tainted, so I failed to understand and share my Mum’s enthusiasm.
Making up for all those lost years I now gorge myself on them. Particularly Sicilian blood oranges which, for me, are the best. And what’s more, I don’t have to share. For now at least.
1 large bulb of fennel
4 blood oranges
40g good hazelnuts, toasted
¼ tsp Malden salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil*
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the salt and lemon juice with a fork. Add the oil and whisk again. Set to one side.
Remove the leafy fronds from the fennel and set to one side. Cut the fennel in half lengthways and then, using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice the fennel as thin as you can. Put the sliced fennel into the bowl and turn well in the dressing.
Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and the bottom off one of the blood oranges. Sit the orange flat on a chopping board and remove the skin and pith by slicing the knife downwards between the flesh and the skin. Work your way around the orange until all of the skin and white pith has been removed and discarded. Set to one side and repeat with the remaining three blood oranges.
Slice the blood oranges through the centre into slices about ½cm thick. Roughly chop the toasted hazelnuts.
Arrange the dressed fennel on a serving plate and add the blood orange slices. Scatter the toasted hazelnuts and fennel fronds over the top. Serve straight away.
*If you have a bottle of good hazelnut oil, substitute 1 tablespoon of the rapeseed oil for hazelnut oil.