We had a lovely salad last week at a lovely restaurant - a tiny Italian place just off Venice Beach. We started with a classic Italian dish: orange and fennel salad. We loved it so much we came home straight home and made it ourselves. We did leave out one of the highlights, however - the giant lump of fresh, salty crabmeat the restaurant included in their version. It's so expensive - we decided to leave out for a plain weeknight meal, but do note that a chunk of really good crab complements this salad perfectly.
The dressing pretty much makes itself; the juices of the fennel and orange run together with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper for a salad that makes you want to lick your plate clean.
Fennel, Orange and Shallot Salad
1 fennel bulb
1 large seedless orange
2 large shallots
Fresh cracked black pepper.
Wash all sand and dirt off the fennel and trim the top. Set the tops aside - cutting a few sprigs for garnish. Shave the bulb as thinly as possible. Cut the orange into wedges, then carefully cut away the skin and pith, then slice the orange flesh away from the membranes. Slice the shallots very thin.
Toss the fennel, orange bites, and shallots with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Use the best, most buttery olive oil you've got. The taste really comes through, and the right oil can make the fennel shine. Also, don't skimp on the black pepper.