Grapefruit, Avocado & Fennel Salad with Greek Olives
You will find culinary applications for all parts of the crunchy, anise-flavored perennial, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), which belongs to the celery family Apiaceae. Fennel’s name in Greek is marathon, which literally means “the plain with fennels,” referring to the location of the famed Greek Battle of Marathon. Fennel is delicious raw or cooked, and its tiny yellow flowers are just as pleasing to the palate as are the seeds, fronds, and root (also called a bulb). Fennel seed is a key ingredient in Italian sausage and is one of the spices in Chinese five-spice blend. One variety of fennel, Florence, is used, along with anise, another licorice-flavored herb, in the making of absinthe — a late 19th century medicinal alcoholic beverage now finding renewed popularity in modern mixology. This recipe combines the delicate and sweet fennel with the citrusy freshness of grapefruit, the creaminess of avocado, and meaty but slightly bitter Greek Kalamata olives.
- 2 pink grapefruits
- 1 large fennel root or bulb, very thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2/3 cup cold water
- 1 small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin, or more to taste
- fresh lemon juice, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups baby arugula or mesclun mix
Peel and seed the grapefruits, removing the white pith. Section the fruit, and cut each section into 3 pieces. Squeeze the skins into a bowl and reserve the juice. Set aside. Discard the skins.
To lightly pickle the fennel, place the fennel slices in a bowl and add 2⁄3 cup rice vinegar to 1⁄3 cup water, or just enough to cover. Add the onion slices and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
In a blender or food processor, combine the grapefruit juice, olive oil, cumin, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until emulsified.
In a large bowl, toss the greens with the dressing and divide equally among the plates. Top with the grapefruit pieces, diced avocado, and seeded Kalamata olives. Drain the fennel and onion slices and arrange over the salad. Garnish with fennel blossoms.
Copyright Kitty Morse, 2015