Spending my early childhood in Rome meant that my craving for delicious vegetables were constant. Yet the large portion of my life spent in Poland during nineties also taught me that vegetables are a purely seasonal affair. I had been thinking of life in post-communist Poland a lot these past couple months as the vegetable offerings at my markets began looking depressed. My mom used to make us salads of cabbage when she couldn't find anymore lettuce: slice very finely, dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, minced garlic, and red wine vinegar. If she had any parsley, that would go in too.
I finally broke out of my sulk about the lack of fresh, crisp veggies this winter when I remembered a classic: fennel and orange. Both are seasonal, and it's particularly nice with the blood oranges that I've been seeing in the markets since January. It's amazingly refreshing - a palate cleanser from all of winter's heavy dishes.
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 blood orange
- good Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Sherry vinegar
- Maldon salt to taste (spectacular for its huge, textured crystals if you haven't tried it yet)
- fresh ground pepper to taste
Wash the fennel bulb, save the fronds, and peel the outside layer of the fennel bulb. Slice the bulb finely. Mince the fronds to use as a garnish. Peel and slice the orange into thin wedges. Combine it all in a bowl, squeezing the orange sections with your fingers as you toss to help it release some of its juices. Drizzle well with EVOO and the sherry vinegar, and toss again with plenty of salt and pepper, to taste.