Here is an elegant salad, amazingly simple, requiring only a few wonderful ingredients found throughout Italy during the winter season.
By Kathy Bechtel
We see fennel and pomegranate growing by the side of the road during our Italy cycling tours. Oranges are produced in the southern regions, but find their way north where blood orange juice, arancia rossa, is on every breakfast buffet. Walnuts are harvested during the fall, and are used in everything from salads to savory meat dishes to risottos to desserts. A few basic knife techniques and a nice olive oil are all you need.
The Silver Spoon, Italy’s best-selling cookbook for over fifty years, includes the description of fennel: “Fennel bulbs are attractive, tasty, and aid digestion. They are also the leanest vegetable. …they are rich in minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. Their delicate aroma is reminiscent of aniseed. When buying fennel, bear in mind that the division into male (round) and female (elongated) bulbs has no scientific basis, but it is worth knowing that the former are better for eating raw – on their own or with other types of salad – while the latter are better cooked.”
- 2 heads fennel, halved and thinly sliced
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 2 oranges, peel and pith removed, and separated into segments
- 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Place the shaved fennel in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Add the orange segments, walnuts and pomegranate seeds.
- Mix and serve, garnishing with a drizzle of olive oil and fennel fronds.
Kathy Bechtel’s obsession with food and cooking began as a teenager. After years following a traditional career path as a telecommunications engineer, she left to attend culinary school and wine training, and is now combining her passions for food and wine, the outdoors, and travel as owner and Culinary Tour Director of Italiaoutdoors. In this role, Kathy leads small bicycle, skiing and walking tours that explore the authentic regional cuisines, local products and undiscovered wines of Northeastern Italy.