This is the time of year when we could all really benefit from consuming more colourful foods like oranges, lemons, carrots and green vegetables as they can really improve our mood and our health too.
Recently my cousin Sandra invited me for dinner. Sandra is an interesting character: She is originally from Latina, near Rome and she moved to Northern Italy many years ago when she married my cousin Carlo. She is very vocal and very friendly, she loves it in the North but at the first opportunity she has this urge to point out how people are so different here; the climate is quite different as central Italy generally enjoys warmer and better weather with more hours of sunshine during the winter time and we all know that sunshine can dramatically affect people's mood.
I feel quite close to her as I often have similar feelings. I was born in Italy but I have been living in the UK for 17 years.
In Italy we say "You are neither fish nor meat" and for a while you feel as though you don't belong to either of those countries. Over the years things do settle down and your new country will feel more like your country although, at least from my experience, your heart will always belong to the place where you were born.
Sandra is an inspiration for me, I love her cooking style: light, rustic, simple and very Mediterranean indeed.
Her latest dish is a super simple starter made with sliced oranges, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. You cannot get more simple that that! So refreshing, cleansing and delicious that it inspired me to create a fennel, orange and olive salad that I had in mind for some time.
This salad has its origins in Sicily where oranges are abundantly in season at this time of year. In my opinion Sicilian oranges are superior in quality than most oranges: so juicy, so sweet and so aromatic. I also love Sicily so much and I am sure that helps too.
I have added a few mint leaves which make the salad even more perfumed. I am truly in love with the combination of flavours in this dish.
I served it with some Parma ham which works heavenly: the sweetness of the oranges and the saltiness of the ham go heavenly together. You can serve this salad as a side dish or as a starter.
This salad serves 4.
- Prep Time : 15 minutes
Here are our simple ingredients for a delicious salad full of goodness.
Mint gives so much flavour in cooking. I often make mint tea and the whole house smells divine!
Start by peeling 3 oranges and with the help of a knife remove their white skin which is bitter then thinly slice them. You can do that on a plate to avoid losing their juice.
Wash the fennel, trim the ends and with the help of a mandolin or with a sharp knife slice them into thin slices.
Squeeze the juice of the remaining orange, pour it in a small bowl, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stir well.
Compose your dish by putting a layer of oranges and the fennel on top and then the olives.
Pour the orange and oil mixture on top and serve.