This is a lovely light, refreshing salad, ideal before or after any hearty winter meal. The very distinctive flavour and texture of the fennel goes well with the freshness of the mint, the salty feta and the sweet oranges. Serves four.
You will need
6 large oranges
2 tbsps fresh orange juice
2 fennel bulbs, sliced
4 tbsps light extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
A few drops of maple syrup
100g feta cheese, cut into squares
4 large handfuls watercress and lamb's lettuce, mixed
30g mint leaves, thinly chopped into ribbons
Carefully peel and segment the oranges. Do this into a bowl to keep the escaping orange juice for your dressing. A small serrated knife is really useful here. Put the orange juice into a small saucepan and reduce down to a couple of tablespoons.
Next, cut the fennel bulb in half, remove the hard inner core and then slice the remaining bulb as thinly as you can. A mandoline is a very useful tool for doing this. Place the sliced fennel in a bowl of iced water until you are ready to assemble the salad. Put the reduced orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice and a drop of maple syrup or honey in a jam jar. Season, seal and shake.
Drain the fennel well, pat dry and mix with the mint and salad leaves and half the oranges.
To serve, dress the salad lightly with the vinaigrette, then place in a bowl, arranging the remaining orange segments and feta on top.
Note: Segmenting a citrus fruit can be a bit daunting if you have never attempted it. Simply cut the top and bottom off, then, using a small serrated fruit knife, cut the skin away in sections from top to bottom in one slice, using your knife to curve the flesh as if hugging the fruit.
Once you have removed the skin over a bowl to catch the juice, hold the fruit in one hand and the knife in the other. Make a sharp incision along one of the segments towards the centre, then, when you reach the centre, push the knife under the segment and push it out. Continue working your way around the fruit until all the segments are done.