With its sweet and salty flavors, this colorful salad makes a superb first course and would also work well as a side to a rich braise. A short soak in ice water makes thin slices of fennel super crisp and refreshing.
If the outside of the fennel bulb looks very fibrous, peel the outer layer using a vegetable peeler. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise, and slice it lengthwise as thinly as you can, preferably with a mandoline. Pile the slices in a large bowl and fill with ice water. Soak about 20 minutes to make them crisp.
Meanwhile, segment the oranges: Cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of an orange to make flat surfaces. Stand the orange on the work surface, and slice off the peel and the underlying white pith, working your way from top to bottom following the curve of the fruit.
Holding the orange over a bowl to catch the juices, carefully slide the knife between the flesh and the membrane of each segment, freeing the flesh. Tip the segments into the bowl as you release each one. When you’re finished, squeeze the remaining membrane to capture any juice. Repeat with the remaining two oranges. Pour off most of the juice into a small bowl.
Drain the fennel slices thoroughly, and pat dry with paper towels. Toss the fennel, orange segments, finely chopped nuts, vinegar, and enough of the reserved juice to make the salad nicely moist; you won’t need all of it. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning so that it’s very vibrant. Add the olive oil, and toss again. Transfer to a platter or plates. Scatter the olives, coarsely chopped nuts, parsley, and fennel pollen, if you like, on top; serve cold.
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Delicious salad! Went very well with Sesame-crusted miso Tuna.
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