This is a fusion of a classic fennel and orange salad with an orange and olive salad, but with a couple of twists. I have become quite addicted to caramelized fennel with fennel seeds, so I started by caramelizing the fennel. Then because this brings out so much sweetness I decided to let the orange sit briefly with a little salt, which also makes them really juice! A sprinkling of olives, a drizzle of oil and lemon juice and a little bit of mint bring all the flavors together. —fiveandspice
large fennel bulb
or so good quality green olives, pitted and quartered
Trim the stalks off of the fennel bulb and trim off any of the bottom bulb that needs removing. Remove the outer layers as well, if they are brown. Thinly slice the fennel bulb lengthwise (about 1/4 inch thick pieces), making thin, flat, feathery tear drop shaped pieces. It's okay if the pieces fall apart, but you're trying to get them to hang together as much as possible.
In a large sautee pan, heat the Tbs. butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil over high heat until foaming. Add as much of the fennel as you can fit in a single layer, cook until the undersides are nicely browned (a couple of minutes), then flip and cook the other sides until brown. Transfer to a a bowl and repeat, adding more olive oil and butter if needed, until you have browned all of the fennel.
Turn down the heat to medium-low, add another small splash of olive oil to the same, sprinkle in the sugar and the fennel seeds and let the sugar just begin to melt (this only takes seconds). Then, stir in the browned fennel, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and stir to get them coated with a bit of caramelizing sugar. Cook for another one to two minutes, then remove from the heat.
Remove the ends from the oranges. Then, one at a time, stand each orange on its end and slice the skin and pith off, following the natural curve of each fruit. Cut each orange into quarters, and slice these quarters into 4 wedges. Put the orange pieces in a bowl, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside for 10 minutes.
On a serving tray spread out the caramelized fennel bulbs. Sprinkle them with the olive pieces and the salted orange pieces. Whisk together 1 Tbs. olive oil with the lemon juice and drizzle this over the salad. Sprinkle with the chopped mint and with a shower of fresh black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.