Blood Orange & Fennel Salad

Pretty oranges!
Pretty oranges!

I returned home on Saturday after spending Christmas with my boyfriend and his family in Norfolk. This was the climax to the over indulgence I had allowed myself all December. By the time I was back in London I was ready to give up all (or most!) of the bad eating and start being healthy again.

Fresh and clean tasting fennel
Fresh and clean tasting fennel

A quick visit to the local shops to pick up some basic supplies also included a trip to Mircey. To my surprise and delight they already had some blood oranges in stock. I bought a bagful along with some fennel and returned home happy in anticipation of the lunch I would be eating the next day.

Hazelnuts ready for roasting
Hazelnuts ready for roasting

Fennel and orange is a well known pairing – the sharp sweetness of the orange is the perfect companion to the aniseed flavour of the fennel. A simple dressing is all that is needed to finish them off. I added a handful of rocket leaves and some crushed, toasted hazelnuts to bulk them out for a more substantial lunch. We ate it again on Monday evening as an accompaniment to some simple pan fried lemon sole.

Blood Orange & Fennel Salad (serves 2 for a light lunch, or as a side)

The perfect antidote to the excesses of the festive season
The perfect antidote to the excesses of the festive season

Handful of hazelnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 medium sized fennel bulb
2 blood (or normal) oranges
2 large handfuls of rocket leaves
Salt & pepper

Pre–heat the oven to 180ºC. Place the hazelnuts on baking tray and roast for 8–10 minutes until they just start to colour. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, put inside a clean tea towel and rub gently to remove their skins. Roughly crush in a pestle & mortar and keep aside.

Place the olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl with salt & pepper to taste.

Slice the fennel lengthways as thinly as possible and put in the bowl with the dressing ingredients and mix. This will stop the fennel from discolouring. You can also use ice water to do this.

Peel the oranges, and then using a serrated knife remove the bitter white pith. Slice each orange horizontally into 5 or 6 slices. Add to the bowl with the rocket and toss gently to prevent the orange slices falling apart. Using your hands is probably best.

Place the salad onto two plates, top with some of the crushed hazelnuts and enjoy!

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