Tis’ the Season for Fennel and Orange

by Lindsey on December 21, 2010

It’s citrus season. That means I try to sneak orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit into recipes whenever possible.

Know what goes perfectly with orange? Fennel. You may see it labeled as anise in the grocery store. It’s that celery-looking veg with verdant fronds reminiscent of dill. Now if you don’t like anise or black licorice, you may be tempted to pass this vegetable by.  But you’d be missing out on something that could change your life.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first. I like the flavor black licorice every so often, but in veggie form? Nope. I wasn’t going to try it. Now I love it. I think of recipes where I can use it. I always have a bulb on hand.

Fennel is in season right now, so you’ll find really good quality, fresh bulbs in your produce section.  It will also be less expensive than other times of the year.  Expect to pay about $1.49/lb. on up to $1.99/lb.  (Maybe more, maybe less.)

I’ve collected a few ways to turn a few simple ingredients into a few good meals that will bring freshness to your wintertime blahs.  (Or is that just me?)

We’re using orange, fennel, apples, green onions, and celery today.  We’ll make a basic salad and then I’ll show you how you can use it a few different ways throughout the week for lunches or snacks, or a light supper.

Basic Salad Recipe:

1 fennel bulb and fronds, diced and chopped, respectively
2 stalks celery, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced (peeled or unpeeled)
1/4 to 1/2 cup green onions, white and tender green parts only, sliced
juice 1 large navel orange (reserve zest for another use)
1-2 tsp. poppy seeds (optional)
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
a handful of raw walnuts or pecans

Toss the fennel, celery, apple, green onions, and walnuts together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, poppy seeds (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle a bit of the dressing over the veggies and fruit. Reserve the remainder for another use.

Creamy Salad Recipe: (kind of like Waldorf)

To the above salad, add a big spoonful of sour cream or yogurt
Can also add some dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots, if desired.

Green Salad with Fennel and Orange Recipe:

Put a few big spoonfuls of the basic salad on a bed of greens and sprinkle with fresh goat cheese, drizzle with a little more of the Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing.

Chicken Salad Recipe:

To the basic salad add:

A big spoonful of sour cream and/or mayo or yogurt (1/4 cup or so)
Chopped fronds of the fennel, to taste, but about 2 Tbsp. is great
A bit of grated orange zest
Cooked chicken (1-2 cups, canned or leftover is fine)
Optional–add some dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, or apricots

Serve on little rolls or croissants, or on its own, or on a bed of greens.

Other recipes my family enjoys:

Spicy Tomato-Fennel Sauce with Herbed Polenta

Fennel-Apple Slaw (very similar to recipe above sans orange)

Chicken Gyros (made with fennel fronds instead of dill) served with Fennel Tzatziki and Homemade Pita Bread

Lindsey Johnson is a regular contributor and stay-at-home mom to three wild and crazy children.  She blogs at Cafe Johnsonia.

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