Up until recently I have been mystified by fennel. I hadn’t found anything (in my few attempts with fennel,)that I really liked it’s anise-y crunch in. And then, in one of the very last CSA buckets of the season, came a crisp and frondy bulb of the most gorgeous fennel. It deserved respect. I found a common theme in online recipes pairing fennel and orange. So I dared to actually not only slice fennel into my salad but oranges too! Supposedly I was never going to mix fruit with salad. My nana used to cut up bits of fruit, bananas and oranges into salads along with vegetables like celery and green pepper. To me this was such a travesty, like when my mom would ruin a perfectly delightful jello with nuts, or worse, carrot shreds. Now I have been won over to some of those exclusively adult taste combinations like Waldorf salad and even marvel at a simple, sophisticated salad like this. The arugula can be interchanged with tender spinach leaves but the peppery bite it offers really adds something special. The orange slices temper the zesty greens with a sweet juiciness and the fennel and toasted almonds add alternately fresh and nutty crunch.
6 cups baby arugula
1 small bulb fennel
1/3 cup sliced or slivered raw almonds
2/3 cup olive oil
Scant tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1. Rinse and dry arugula.
2. Cut the peels off the oranges and slice them into half-moons, reserving one-half of an orange for the dressing.
3. Slice off the frondy tops and the base of the fennel, cut into half and then into very thin slices.
4. Toast almonds over low heat in a skillet until light brown.
5. Squeeze the juice from the reserved orange half, it should be around 1/3 cup.
6. Add olive oil and salt and pepper.
At the last-minute…
7. Top the arugula with oranges, fennel and just barely gloss the greens with dressing. Toss the almonds on top, serve!