Fennel and orange salad is an easy and tasty vegetarian recipe typical of Sicilian cuisine.
Although fennel and orange may seem like an unusual combination, we assure you that together they form a delicious combo that will amaze all your guests!
Orange fennel salad can be eaten all year round, especially in winter, when both oranges and fennel are at their best. It’s a very simple recipe that builds its uniqueness on contrasts. Sour and sweet, soft and crunchy, to create a dish of great balance.
Of course, for the success of the dish, it’s important to choose the best ingredients, fresh and in season.
You can serve this fabulous salad as a main course for a light meal, or as a side dish, especially matched with fish recipes. In Sicily it’s often served at the end of a meal as a refreshment, after rich and abundant lunches.
Italian fennel and orange salad is not only very tasty, but also colorful and cheerful. For this reason it’s the protagonist on Sicilian tables especially during festive lunches such as Christmas and Easter.
Fennel orange salad is a really easy and quick-to-make recipe. Few high quality ingredients wisely assembled together. Try it! In a few minutes you can create an exceptional treat!
How to Make Italian Fennel and Orange Salad Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 Min
- Cook Time: 0 Min
- Yelds: 6
Fennel Orange Salad Ingredients
- 2 fennels
- 3 oranges
- 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of fennel or anise seeds
- 8-10 black olives
- fine salt and ground black pepper to season
PLEASE NOTE: read the paragraph below “What are the Best Fennel and Orange for Salads?”
Step 1) – Sicilian orange fennel salad is very simple to prepare. First clean the fennel, removing the stems and the toughest and most stringy outer leaves, then rinse well.
Dry and slice it thinly. You can use a knife or a mandoline if you want to have very thin slices, depending on your taste. Arrange the fennel slices in a salad bowl or on a plate and set aside.
Step 2) – Now squeeze half an orange and set the juice aside.
Peel the other two oranges as follows. Using a very sharp knife, remove completely the peel, the bitter white part, the membrane and all the filaments covering the orange. This way of peeling citrus fruits is called “al vivo” (see paragraph below “How to Peel and Cut an Orange “al vivo”).
Step 3) – Then, using a sharp knife, cut the oranges into wedges.
Step 4) – Place the oranges and fennel in a large bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half an orange.
Add the black olives and season with a little anise or fennel seeds. Mix everything well to blend all the flavors. Italian fennel and orange salad is ready!
You can store the fennel and orange salad in the refrigerator sealed in an airtight food-specific container for up to a day.
If you store it longer, the fennel will lose its crunch and darken and the oranges may become a little bitter.
How to Peel and Cut an Orange “al vivo”
The expression “al vivo” refers, in the cutting of citrus fruits, to a technique that seeks maximum finesse and elegance in the piece of fruit.
The “supreme” cut consists in removing the segments of the orange completely without skin, white albedo, the thin membrane and filaments that cover the pulp of the orange.
What to Serve with Fennel Orange Salad
You can serve this easy Fennel and Orange Salad as a main dish, for a light, vegetarian and healthy meal, or as a side dish, especially if you pair it with fish dishes.
Perfect is, for example, the combination of this dish with our Sarde a Beccafico recipe.
Fennel and Orange Salad Recipe Variations
As with any traditional Italian recipe, there are several variations of the Sicilian recipe for fennel and orange salad, all of which are excellent! Just add 1 or 2 more ingredients and you have a new and tasty recipe!
Let’s see together then what can be these variants.
Fennel Orange Salad With Red Onion
Often in Sicily they add some very thin slices of Tropea red onion.
To make sure the raw onion is not too indigestible, cut it into slices and let them soak in warm water and a little white vinegar for about 30 minutes.
Instead of black olives, you canadd pine nuts and raisins.
You can choose to flavor the salad with other spices of your taste. Instead of anise or fennel seeds, you can add grated ginger.
Some mint leaves are also a good alternative, without overdoing it as mint has a rather strong and covering flavor.
Fennel Orange Salad With Sardines
There are also many other variations that make this salad richer and more substantial. These variations turn the salad into a real one-dish meal.
Popular variations involve adding fish to this salad. Very often they add grilled sardines or sardines in oil.
Very popular in Sicily is also the variation with small pieces of swordfish, first fried and then added to fennel and orange salad.
Fennel Orange Salad With Octopus
Maybe the most common variant, not only in Sicily but in all Italy, is the one with boiled octopus.
Octopus salad with oranges and fennels is really very appetizing and particular. It’s an original alternative to the traditional octopus and potato salad.
What are the Best Fennel and Orange for Salads?
Surely you’ve noticed that fennels are not all the same. There are the very round ones and the more elongated and flattened ones.
In Italy we use to define the first type as “male” and the second type as “female”.
This division is purely a peasant convention and has nothing scientific about it. As a matter of fact the plant has no sex and it’s simply the variety which determines its roundish or elongated shape.
Certainly these two types of fennel have different characteristics. Round “male” fennel is considered the best. They have more flesh, are more tender and are also sweeter and juicier. They are certainly more suitable to eat raw, in salads or in pinzimonio.
“Female” fennels, more flattened and elongated, are instead more fibrous and therefore more suited to be eaten cooked. For example au gratin in the oven, or used for soups or creams.
So for the Sicilian salad of fennel and oranges, be careful to choose round and fleshy fennel!
As far as oranges are concerned, there is no best quality for making Sicilian salad of oranges and fennel. The important thing is that they are juicy, flavorful and a high quality fresh oranges.
In Sicily, homeland of the best oranges of Italy, the qualities of oranges are many. The most famous ones are Sanguinello, Tarocco and Belladonna which are found from November to April.
All qualities are good for making this recipe. According to taste and seasonality, oranges can be more or less sweet, round or oval, orange or red.
Our recommendation is not to use oranges that are too sweet, but use slightly sour ones. This is to counteract the sweetness of the fennel. But this is a matter of taste!