An arugula, fennel, and orange salad makes a bright addition to a summer dinner or even a light lunch. Sweet citrus, licorice-y fennel, and slightly spicy arugula all work together so well, you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried it before.
The bright flavors of peppery arugula, the anise accent of fennel, and the tangy sweetness of oranges come together in this vibrant winter salad. You can make the vinaigrette and prepare the fennel and oranges ahead of time and refrigerate. Combine all the elements just before serving.–Lou Seibert Pappas
LC Salad Days Note
The sturdiness of this starter’s simple components make it especially superb during coolish weather, especially those transitional seasons when your cravings veer toward something sort of salady yet still slightly substantial. This lovely little recipe is just the thing for those moments, as it’s able to stand up to a robust winter braise and also serve as a solo lunch (for that, we like to embellish it with a little round of goat cheese).
☞ Table of Contents
Arugula, Fennel, and Orange Salad
For the citrus vinaigrette
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange or tangerine or clementine juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the arugula, fennel and orange salad
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 3 navel oranges
- 4 cups fresh arugula (rocket)
Make the vinaigrette
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, olive oil, canola oil, mustard, shallot, and tarragon, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Make the arugula, fennel and orange salad
- Cut off the stems and feathery fronds of the fennel bulb and remove any bruised or discolored outer layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out any tough core parts. Cut the bulb halves crosswise into slices just shy of a half inch thick, and then cut the slices into 1-inch lengths.
- Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a slice off both ends of the orange to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange upright on a cutting board and thickly slice off the peel and pith in strips, following the contour of the fruit. Cut the orange in half crosswise and thinly slice each half to create several half-moons. If desired, release the orange segments from the bitter membranes surrounding them. Repeat with the remaining oranges.
- Place the fennel and arugula in a large serving bowl. (You can cover and refrigerate each of the salad’s components for up to several hours.)
- When ready to serve, drizzle about 1/2 of the vinaigrette over the arugula and fennel and toss gently to coat. Arrange the orange slices on top. Drizzle with as much of the remaining vinaigrette as desired and serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe is as simple as it is flavorful, and makes a refreshing addition to any meal. It allows fennel and orange to do what they do best, which is to love one another without a lot of interference. The dressing is light and well-balanced, and the Dijon mustard gives it a nice edge. That said, there’s no way I’d use all of the dressing that the recipe calls for, as it would drench everything. Using half was more than sufficient. Also, if you slice the oranges as the recipe instructs, you end up with lots of webbing (or whatever the connective bits between the segments are called). So after cutting the orange crosswise as directed, I sliced each half into thin rounds, and then bisected the rounds into half-moons. Serving suggestions seem pretty accurate. If I were to change anything, it would be to add a salty element, such as sliced black olives, shaved Parmesan, or ricotta salata. A handful of toasted hazelnuts would also lend more punch.
I absolutely love this recipe. I was going to give it a 9, but after making it for three days in a row—and wanting to make it again today—I’d say that it deserves a 10. This salad is so refreshing—it would make a great palate cleanser between an appetizer and main course, or even after a heavy main course. It actually made a great main course one night when we were tired, hot, hungry, and didn’t want to cook. Instead of cutting the oranges into half-moons, I sectioned them, and cut the sections into chunks that I tossed with the fennel and arugula. TIPS: When you have so few ingredients in a recipe, they really need to shine, so buy good fennel, arugula, and oranges. Also, be sure to drink up all of the delicious juices left in the bottom of the bowl after you’ve finished eating your salad. (You may not want to do that in front of company, though.)
Easy and delicious—the perfect way to enjoy the last of winter’s oranges. The one thing I’d change about this recipe is the method of cutting the orange segments. I don’t like the stringiness of the orange slices, as it doesn’t add anything to the salad. Using the peler à vif method would be much better: use a knife to shave the orange’s peel and pith, and section the slices between their membranes.
I was drawn to this recipe for two reasons. First, I thought the dressing would be lighter than most due to the ratio of citrus juice to oil. This proved to be the case. The citrus flavor was perfect for the tangy arugula and the sweet fennel and oranges. The second reason I tried this recipe was that I thought it would be beautiful, what with the dark greens, white fennel, and bright orange segments. My only complaint (and it’s not really a complaint) is that the amount of dressing was far too much for the 4 cups of arugula. The opportunity this presents, however, is to have this salad again.
I took this salad to friend’s house this past weekend. Everyone raved about it. We loved the zesty orange paired with the bitter spinach. It was just wonderful—very fresh and exquisite. A must-try, and often.
Originally published April 12, 2011