Salad probably is not the first thing that comes to mind when you are planning a winter meal. Cold weather calls for hearty, belly-warming soups, stews and casseroles, of course. But to accompany those stick-to-your-ribs dishes, there is no better match than a salad made with seasonal produce — one that provides crisp, bright contrast and has substance enough to stand up to them.
This salad is a quintessential example, a combination of bold, fresh tastes and colours that come together as a perfect foil for a hot one-pot main course. The thinly sliced fennel at its base is cool and refreshing, but it is not shy like a tender spring lettuce. Rather, it provides a definitive anise flavour and a big crunch that plays off the sweet-tart juicy citrus, one of the season’s produce highlights.
This time of year, oranges are plump and perfect, and there is a remarkable variety to choose from. If you can find them, get blood oranges, whose flesh has a stunning red hue and a generous pucker. Cara Cara navel oranges, a bit sweeter and gloriously pink inside, are also a special treat. If neither of those is available, regular old navel oranges work just as well.
Salty olives and slices of red onion add punches of contrasting flavour, and a citrus vinaigrette ties it all together. Pair this salad with hearty Mediterranean-style stews, soups, bakes and braises, and it will brighten your day as much as the hot dish warms it.
FENNEL SALAD WITH ORANGES AND OLIVES
From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
4 blood oranges (may substitute 3 Cara Cara or other navel oranges)
2 medium fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced, plus a few fronds reserved for garnish
1/2 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamata or Sicilian cured olives, cut in half