Memories of Italy Hidden in a Salad

While in Italy, I noticed a great deal of attention was given to the palate and the way in which food was perfectly orchestrated from preparation to consumption. Meals had an order to them; appetizers actually opened up my appetite (shocking, right?). Chicken wings swimming in a puddle of sauce or a mountain of nachos forgotten under a cap of plastic-like cheese was simply unheard of. I loved how food made sense there.

Breakfast was usually small and quick – un caffè accompanied by a biscotti was delicious and typical. Ordering a “decaf grande, half-soy, half-low fat, double-shot, marble mocha macchiato, no foam, 2 Sweet-n’-low, extra hot” was grounds for excommunication with a side of public humiliation. Lunches were equally enjoyable, and I can continue to rant about how fabulous the al fresco dinners were, but that’s not what this entry is really about. This entry is my little tribute to the Sicilian classic, Fennel and Orange Salad.

On my trip I learned that salads are not to be eaten as entrees nor are they served as preludes to a meal. A salad should be enjoyed after the main course as a palate cleanser for the sweet finale. The moment I tasted this traditional Sicilian winter salad, I knew it was worth blogging about. The fresh anise flavor that charges through each bite literally douses your taste buds with the most memorable refreshing sensation. The anise flavor is then coupled with the sweet tartness from the juice of the blood oranges, striking that perfect note in your mouth. Add a few olives for some extra tang and your fruitiest extra virgin olive oil for some balance and you’ve got yourself a phenomenal salad!

Fennel & Orange Salad

Fennel & Orange Salad

(yields 2 servings)


  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 blood orange
  • 1 naval orange
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • a few black olives
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Prepare the fennel by cutting off the bulb. Then cut the bulb into quarters, and slice each quarter into thin strips. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. Section the oranges and set aside. Then squeeze what’s left to remove as much of the juice as possible.
  3. Whisk the juice of the oranges into the olive oil to create a light vinaigrette. Season with salt and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. To serve, scatter fennel slices on a large platter, decorate with orange segments, black olives and drizzle with the light orange vinaigrette.


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