There's nothing as good as a simple sauteed vegetable, like fennel. Though fennel is actually an herb in the same family as dill, cilantro and cumin, the bulb is a root vegetable. Seared and then sauteed, it becomes sweet savory with a hint of anise flavor. Long prized, this venerable vegetable was on Charlemagne's menu and reportedly was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson.

In this recipe, the seared fennel is added to a salad with an unusual twist: the sweetness of orange balanced by the saltiness of olives. Served with fresh baby greens and drizzled with a classic dressing, it is the perfect start to a great meal.

The fennel flavor matches well with poultry or fish, so to create your meal you might pair it with herbed chicken, a few roasted potatoes and sliced tomatoes. If you prefer fish, try a nice baked flounder filet with wild rice and steamed green beans. The key is to not only give something new a try, but also think in terms of healthy combinations.

Pan-Seared Fennel and Orange Salad

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad

Content Continues Below ⤵

  • 2 medium oranges
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 cups baby greens
  • 1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, optional

Directions

  1. Whisk all ingredients for dressing, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Cut about 1/2 inch off top and bottom of orange, enough to expose flesh. Stand orange up on cutting board. Using sharp knife, cut down and around orange, removing skin and pith, until no skin or pith remains. Hold orange in one hand over a bowl. With other hand, run small sharp knife along right and left sides of individual sections, loosening and freeing them, one by one, from membranes. Continue until orange is completely sectioned. Discard membrane. Set sections aside.
  3. Rinse and pat fennel dry. Cut about 1/4 inch off bottom of bulb, cut in half and trim out and discard heart. Slice bulb into 1/4-inch slices.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in medium skillet. Once hot, add fennel slices, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes until caramelized and golden on both sides. Add oranges, then toss mixture with 2 tsp. dressing. Remove from heat.
  5. Toss salad greens with onion, olives and remaining dressing. Top salad with golden fennel and toss lightly to combine flavors. Garnish with more mint, if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
120 calories
6 g total fat
1 g saturated fat
17 g carbohydrate
2 g protein
5 g dietary fiber
100 mg sodium