This fennel, orange, and watercress salad is easy to make and even easier (and far more pleasing) to look at. Its tangy lemon and honey vinaigrette can both start and stop conversations, which is exactly how we like our salads.
How to segment citrus fruit
Learning how to segment citrus fruit is a cinch. For starters, you’ll need to reach for a sharp knife. Lop off about 1/2 inch from the top and bottom of the oranges to expose the flesh. Place the fruit on one of its flat ends and use the knife to follow the curve of the fruit as you remove the colored peel and the underlying white pith. Rotate and repeat, working your way around the fruit, until the citrus fruit is completely exposed. Then work your way around each fruit, slipping the knife between the citrus and the white membrane and freeing the individual segment so they slip out. It’s best to work over a bowl or a rimmed cutting board so you can capture the stray citrus juice.
Fennel, Orange, and Watercress Salad
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 25 M
- Serves 4
First, peel and segment 2 of the oranges. (Never segmented citrus before? Not to worry. Simply follow the instructions in How to segment citrus fruit above.) Set the segments aside and toss the peels and white membranes in the compost. Pour any juice into a bowl.
Squeeze as much juice as you can from the remaining orange and dump it in the bowl with the other juice. You should have about 7 tablespoons (100 milliliters). Add the lemon zest, shallot, honey, and thyme. Add the oil gradually, whisking constantly, until everything is emulsified. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Arrange the watercress on a large platter or individual plates and then scatter the fennel on top. Arrange the orange segments over everything. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine and then drizzle as much or as little as desired over the salad just seconds before serving. (Cover and refrigerate any remaining dressing for up to several days.) Originally published December 19, 2015.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This is a beautiful and refreshing salad—easy to make and pleasing to look at.
Total hands-on time, including making the vinaigrette, was less than 15 minutes. Segmenting the oranges took 5 minutes. Grating the lemon zest and shallot took 2 minutes, and I used a mandoline to slice the fennel after I'd cored it, another 5 minutes. Once the slicing and grating is done, the salad takes only a minute to assemble and drizzle with the dressing. I think this salad is best displayed on a pretty platter to show off the contrast of the colors. We served this with a delicate poached fish and had a light and satisfying meal.
The only thing I'd do differently next time is to make more.
This classic combination of flavors is one that should be in everyone's recipe collection. You really can't go wrong with the taste of juicy, sweet oranges, especially this time of year, along with crunchy, licorice-flavored fennel and peppery watercress. Plus, it's as healthy as can be!
What really brought this specific recipe together for me was the yummy vinaigrette. I loved the brightness of this vinaigrette—the lemon zest, shallot, sweet honey, and fresh thyme made a lovely finishing touch on the classic salad. It's a vinaigrette that works really well with this specific recipe but also is a simple vinaigrette recipe to have handy for other dishes as well. I would not make the thyme optional, as I thought it really elevated the vinaigrette!
This recipe was also a nice teaching recipe in terms of flavor combinations and how to segment citrus and properly cut fennel. A simple recipe but one to always keep in your recipe folder!