I've made this many times, and find it a really nice change from lettuce and spinach salads. The winters are very grey here in Vancouver, and just when it seems like winter will never end, the blood oranges and other citruses are in the stores. This salad always cheers me up, its soft bright colours and zingy flavours bring a bit of Sicilian sun to the heart of Canadian winter. I made it tonight, and used regular Kalamata olives instead of dry-cured. The dry ones are almost too salty for my taste, but their inky black makes a great colour contrast to the salad's soft pastels. I forgot the mint, but scattered some fennel fronds on top and it was none the worse for it. Nice licorice-y basil would be nice too.
This is an unusual salad with a flavor profile that works really well with grilled fish or chicken, or even a roasted chicken in winter. Guests usually find it a delightful surprise. I've found that the ratio of orange to fennel is a little low in the recipe as written, and that it needs a good deal more mint, at least a tablespoon, and a tablespoon of Italian parsley. Also, the dressing brightens considerably with the addition of the orange juice collected when sectioning the oranges and a tablespoon or so of mirin (japanese rice vinegar). Now that I have learned the technique and combination I tend feel free to combine until I like the flavor.
This was a pleasant surprise. All my guests enjoyed this salad and were surprised at the ingredients...especially the fennel. "What's fennel?", the men asked. Because it served 6 and I had 8 guests, I added just a little spring mix which added a little color and helped to fill out the plate. Very good. I also used Kalamatas olives as I could not find "dry cured olives".
This salad is good, but it just lacks a "wow" factor. Individually I love all the elements, and the salad looks very pretty on the plate, but all the flavors together just didn't blend too harmoniously. However, it was a nice change of pace from green salad, and it was fun to use fennel. I will say that the combination of orange and red onion really worked.
This salad is outstanding! I've made it several times.