Light and refreshing, this dish shows off citrus at its best!
In the dead of winter, when our fresh local produce is limited to root vegetables and greens, the seasonal citrus from the south are vibrant rays of sunshine. I look forward to all the varieties of oranges available, especially the sweet and colorful blood oranges, something unheard of when I was a kid. When I was growing up, this was the time of year when mom would bring home big mesh bags of “juice oranges” the only time of the year when oranges were cheap enough to buy just to squeeze for juice.
Grapefruit right now is sweet and juicy, Meyer lemons appear with their distinct almost woodsy flavor, and limes are actually heavy with juice! Who wouldn’t want to celebrate all this, especially when the world is black and white?
Fennel and grapefruit are a perfect pair
Fennel and grapefruit salad is a regular in my house, especially this time of year, and usually with avocado. I have to say, this year has been very disappointing here in the north with the avocado hunt; even fruit that are barely ripe and feel perfect to the touch, are brown on the inside upon opening up. This has happened several times. So I was delighted to find some at the co-op this week that were pretty perfect except for a couple small spots.
At this time of year, I want color on my plate
It is black and white outside, so this is the time of year when I crave color on my plate. The blood oranges are beautiful to behold, so toss them into the salad as well. Some fennel seeds and fronds enhance that element of the salad, and a bit of jalapeño add a little zip! A light dressing from the zest and juice of the citrus brings it all together.
You can swap other oranges or citrus for the blood orange depending on what is available and looks heavy and delicious. If using lemon or lime, add a bit more maple syrup to balance out the sour.
Then put on your shades, some reggae music, and dig in to this sunny salad. To make this a full meal, add some grilled tofu or shrimp and you’re all set!
A Celebration of Citrus: Fennel, Grapefruit and Blood Orange Salad
- Zest of 1 medium grapefruit
- Zest of 1 blood orange, or other citrus
- 1 – 2 tbsp. grapefruit and orange juice (from sectioned fruit)
- 2 tbsp. white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp. honey or maple syrup
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Pinch of salt and few grinds pepper
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium grapefruit, sectioned
- 2 small blood oranges, sectioned
- 1 large head fennel, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp. fennel fronds, chopped
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 fat scallions, sliced thinly
- 1 fat jalapeño or Serrano pepper, finely minced
- 2 avocados, chopped
- ½ small head Napa cabbage, sliced thinly
- Pea shoots to garnish
- Seeds of choice to garnish, sesame, poppy, nigella, etc.
Make the dressing. Zest the citrus and place the zest in a large bowl. Whisk the rest of the dressing ingredients together, drizzling in the olive oil last. Taste and correct the seasoning to your liking. Is it sour enough? Do you want it sweeter?
Section the grapefruit and oranges into segments and place them in the bowl, (squeeze in the juice from the carcasses as well). Add the fennel, fronds, seeds, scallions, jalapeño, and mix well. Add the avocado and gently mix to combine.
On a serving platter, arrange the cabbage and pea shoots and top with the dressed salad. Sprinkle with seeds if you like, or some more fresh fennel fronds or parsley.
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