Caramelized Fennel, Leek, and Orange Salad

By • January 9, 2012 • 43 Comments


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Author Notes: About 6 months ago, a friend gave me a gorgeous can of sucre roux a la coriandre, a sugar she'd bought at a specialty store in Vancouver. I wasn't totally sure what it was or how to use it, but I was intrigued. Turns out it's a coriander sugar and it's absolutely divine. I created this dish to highlight its flavor but also the ways that it and fennel, leeks and oranges complement each other. This is scrumptious and also beautiful!em-i-lis

Food52 Review: WHO: Em-i-lis is an avid cook who lives in D.C.
WHAT: A warm, composed salad that plays sweet and earthy all at once.
HOW: A little caramelizing, a little sprinkling, some zesting, and you're done!
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is one of the most interesting uses of fennel we know; we see it paired with grilled proteins or as a hearty first-course salad for spring dinner parties. The coriander sugar is an inspired touch, as is the sambuca. (But if you're working in a booze-free kitchen, don't let that stop you!)
A&M

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • tablespoon coriander sugar (or whisk freshly ground coriander with unrefined sugar)
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and pith removed, fruit cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal
  • Ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup sambuca or ouzo
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest of 1/2 orange, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped or picked, for garnish
  1. In a skillet just large enough to hold your orange slices in one layer, heat the butter. When it’'s melted and is foaming, add the coriander sugar. When that is melted and has started to caramelized, lower heat to medium and add the orange slices. Cook 3 minutes, flip, lower heat to medium-low, cook 2 minutes more, and remove from heat.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat some olive oil (enough to slick the bottom of the pan) over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the fennel and leek slices and sprinkle with ground coriander. Sear for 3 minutes, flip, and add 1/4 Ouzo or Sambuca. Sprinkle somewhat generously with salt and cook 3 minutes more.
  3. Remove the fennel and leeks from the heat and transfer carefully to a serving bowl. Layer the orange slices carefully over them, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss the fennel fronds and orange zest over. Serve.

Comments (43) Questions (0)

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4 months ago frizz

Absolutely so freaking delicious. I snuck a tiny piece of orange before the salad was complete (cook's prerogative), and it was divine. The coriander is magical. The salad is just divine. My only thought would be to cut the leeks longer and thicker; mine seemed to burn a bit before the fennel had a chance to brown.

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4 months ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much for writing, frizz! I'm thrilled you enjoyed the salad!! :)

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12 months ago Macky Sumibcay

any meat sugestion for this salad, thanks !!!

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12 months ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I had it with seared scallops and it was wonderful, not meat but really good. I think it would be great with pork also.

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12 months ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

thank you for your suggestions, suzanne!! this goes well as a side with most anything to be honest. i'd just keep the meat simple.

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about 1 year ago vvvanessa

Such a smart recipe! Congrats!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

thank you so much, vanessa! what a nice note!

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about 1 year ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

congratulations!!!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you very much!

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about 1 year ago fhp

Emily, my suspicions were right. This salad is utterly delicious and wonderfully original even though it follows a wonderful tradition of flavors. The hint of coriander is really the twist that reveals. Here in Central California the wild fennel is an invasive weed. I think you have just taught me how to embrace it. Thank You.
PS. I've got some fresh sardines. Have you tried the sardine pasta "Best Seafood Pasta" recipe?

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you!! I'm so happy you already made and tried it!!
I've not tried the sardine pasta- if you go that route for dinner, let me know what you think!

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about 1 year ago EAW

You are a win-nah! Boston sends congrats to you. Keep those yummy recipes coming.

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

What a great note! :) Thanks, EAW!

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about 1 year ago fhp

Congratulations. I am going to make this today. I have oranges and fennel in the garden and lots of the wild kind for the fronds. What would you suggest about the proportion of ground coriander to sugar as I am going to concoct this one myself?
I'm thinking of serving this with tuna steaks slow poached in olive oil. Thanks for your advice. By the way I looked at all the wonderful recipes you have saved and I think you will be one of my barometers.

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, fhp. What a flattering, kind note! I would freshly crack whole coriander seeds and maybe start w/ a 1/2 tsp of that. You can always add more when you sprinkle the fennel and leek slices if you find the dish light on coriander flavor. Let me know how it turns out! :)

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about 1 year ago amber wilson | for the love of the south

Congrats on being a finalist! Your recipe looks wonderful!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, love of south!!!

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about 1 year ago Midge

Sounds absolutely delicious! Big congrats em-i-lis!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, Midge!! I really appreciate your note! Rhubarb season is coming- more of your scones! ;)

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about 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Em, I am grinning and shouting hurray for seeing your recipe here!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh, Cyn, you doll. Thank you! :)

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about 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations Em, a great recipe. I loved it!!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, Suzanne. I was really thrilled that you liked it so much. XO

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about 1 year ago Sugartoast

Congrats, Em. So proud of you :) Love ya!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh dear, I'm teary. Thank you so much, Sugartoast. xoxo

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about 1 year ago healthierkitchen

Yay, Emily! Coriander sugar!!! Sadly, I am the only fennel eater in my house but I will make this for myself someday soon.

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Sounds like a perfect plan! I never love sharing this. ;)
Thank you, W!!

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about 1 year ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congratulations Emily! I was lucky enough to get to test this recipe and we loved it! We had it for lunch on Easter before our Easter egg hunt and big Easter supper.

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh wow, Emily, thanks!! I'm so glad you tried and enjoyed it!! Thanks so much!

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about 1 year ago lapadia

Congrats, Emily! The photo you posted was so appetizing, I had a good feeling about this :) !!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh, thank you, L!!! I really appreciate that!

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about 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on being a finalist, em-i-lis! Such an interesting recipe!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you, DrB!!!!

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about 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

So interesting! Congrats, em-i-lis. ;o)

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, AJ! It's been a family fave for a while now!

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about 1 year ago Bevi

Congrats Em-i-lis! I figured this would be in the mix!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh, thank you, Bevi! That is so kind of you. :)

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about 1 year ago gingerroot

Congrats on being a finalist, Em-i-lis! This sounds wonderful and I love the idea of coriander sugar.

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, Gingerroot! I really appreciate your note and am really flattered to be a finalist!

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about 1 year ago Roberta Duncan

Emily! I made the recipe, and it was REALLY good! I did think the orange would have held up better, had I cut it thicker than 1/4 in. I added 1/4 c. Sambuca...it was delicious. I loved everything about it! Thank you!

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about 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hi Roberta, Thank you so much for making this recipe and letting me know that you liked it. I really appreciate your time. Good tip about slightly thicker oranges, and you've made me see that I neglected to add the 1/4 c of Sambuca in the ingredients list. OOPS! Thank you again, Roberta!