10 Jun


Fennel and Orange Salad

Insalata di finocchio e arancia is a favorite of the Romans –present day Romans, that is, and not their ancestors from the Great Empire who couldn’t have made it anyway.¬† Only one of the main ingredients, fennel, was even known in Ancient Rome, and oranges weren’t introduced into Sicily until the 10th century by the Arabs.

Although navels or other “regular” oranges can be used, blood oranges with their dramatic ruby flesh and less acidic flavor make this salad particularly delicious and, along with the greenish-white fennel and black olives, so visually appealing, especially at the holidays.

Blood oranges are available in most American markets at this time of year, but only for a short time. So rush out and get them while you can and try this refreshing, healthful and low calorie salad. Serve it in a glass bowl and you have a beautiful red, white, and green Christmas display on your table.

Quantities listed below are arbitrary; adjust according to taste and number of servings desired.

3-4 blood (or other) oranges peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2-3 medium fennel bulbs-remove outer layers and cut inner part into small slices
3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of black olives, oil cured or other
coarse sea salt, to taste

Buon Appetito!

*Now about that other salad:

Don’t go in search of a Caesar Salad in Italy, because you won’t find it.

Not Roman or even Italian at all, the classic Caesar Salad (according to conventional opinion) was invented by a restaurateur and chef in Tijuana, Mexico in the early 20th century.

Unfortunately what comes out of too many American kitchens these days is a heavy, creamy perversion of the original that would be better called the Caligula, or What Mess Hath the Barbarians Wrought.

When properly made as its creator Cesare Cardini did with fresh ingredients (romaine, lemon juice, coddled egg, mashed garlic cloves, ground black pepper, croutons, and grated Parmigiano cheese – the inclusion of anchovies is disputed) this salad, named for a mortal, would have been fit even for Julius, the god of all Caesars.

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