it may still technically be fall, but on friday night, coming home from a shabbat dinner in our neighborhood, josh and i were caught off guard in a terrible, blustery, cruel wintry wind. the kind that makes your eyes water. the kind that makes your back tighten in an awkward, painful way. the kind that makes you question why on earth anyone lives in the northeast. the kind that makes you wonder if you'll ever be warm again. the kind that makes you sorry you ever cursed the swampy, heavy, sticky summer days that now seem impossibly far away. the kind that makes you say a brisk hello to the acquaintances you run into on the street cause you're just too cold to linger and chat even though you really like them.
now it's monday. and it's fall again. thank goodness.
but you might still enjoy this wintry salad, even if it's a little premature.
i should mention that i'm pregnant. and craving citrus. and i've been eating an orange or a grapefruit a day. at least. navel oranges are my favorites because they're so hearty and sweet and i eat the whole thing, right down to the pith, which scrape with my teeth. i love the earthy bitterness in contrast to the fresh sweetness of the pulp. my mom does it too. we might be weird. and grapefruits... well... i think i'd be better off just eating those in private. things get messy. but their bright sour juiciness is not to be missed!
not everyone loves fennel. in fact, josh isn't so fond of the unexpected, sweet and savory licorice crunch in each wonderful bite. but i just might have converted him with this salad, and i hope all you fennel haters out there will give it another try if you haven't had it with citrus yet. or olives.
what is there to say about olives except that they make everything better. i love them all, even the kind that come from a can. (those are great for salad nicoise and seven layer dip!) there's a fancy store down the street from my apartment and sometimes i spend a little too much time sampling the olives. especially the giant, meaty cerignola olives. but the greatest olives on earth, unparalleled in their spicy, salty deliciousness, come from a town in israel in between jerusalem and tel aviv. it's called abu gosh. and everyone should go there and eat the green olives. seriously. but don't worry, the beauty of this recipe is the olives can come from the sad salad bar at the grocery store!
1 large navel orange
1 large blood orange*
1 bulb fennel
1/3 cup oily black olives, like kalamata
1 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper and a pinch of celery salt if you have it
*if you can't find a blood orange don't worry. just use another navel orange, which i happen to think is more delicious, just not as pretty.
1. slice the oranges as thin as you can. i'm terrible at this and my slices always come out lopsided and unmatched, but it doesn't really matter. but if you excel at slicing, this is a good way to show off your gift. spread them out on a plate so they cover the surface.
2. slice the fennel, beginning at the base. if the pieces look too thick just cut them in half or into smaller bits. there's no right or wrong with slicing them. layer the fennel on top of the oranges. save the fuzzy looking green stems that shoot up from the top of the fennel bulb. they're delicious and look pretty chopped up on top of this dish. so do that to them.
3. mash the olives! if you have a mortar and pestle you can use it to do this, or a food processor, or a small knife if you like cutting things into tiny bits. all three work well as long as the olives are broken down and kind of tapenade looking when you're done. use a small spoon to stud the dish with happy little globs of the olives. as much or as little as you'd like.
4. drizzle the olive oil on top and then sprinkle the salt, pepper, and celery salt, too.
voila! a delicious, light, refreshing salad that might just bring you the hope you need to get through the next blustery winter night!