Orange, Fennel and hazelnut salad with green olives and fresh herbs.  Plate from Marimekko. Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

When I was in high school, my very first job was as a waitress (I was HOPELESS) in a popular Melbourne cafe which shall remain nameless!  (It’s still popular!).  The manager quickly realised how completely incompetent I was on the floor, and I was instantly relegated to the role of Juice Girl.  This was during the mid 90′s, when getting a freshly squeezed orange juice with your breakfast was brand new and all the rage, darling. I think we made more fresh OJ’s than coffees that summer, to be honest. I spent every Saturday prepping the equivalent of my body weight in oranges – removing the peel and the pith, and slicing piles and piles of fresh oranges in enormous plastic tubs.  As I worked, the entire work bench would gradually become an overflowing pool of orange juice, dripping from the chopping board down my apron and onto my feet. I would come home covered in sticky residue, with bright orange fingers.  Whenever I prepare today’s recipe, bizarrely, I am reminded of those teenage years, working the juicer for I think $9.00 an hour.  At least I still have a great knack for slicing a juicy naval orange in record time!

High school nostalgia aside, this recipe was actually inspired by a delicious lunch my pal Lisa Marie Corso often makes for us in the office.  She likes to roast her fennel, but I prefer including mine raw, sliced finely – I love the crunch!  These flavours work so well together.  The sweet orange needs a few spiky, savoury flavours to gift it a lift and a bit of substance – the salty olives, toasted hazelnuts and aniseed notes are just the ticket!

I am particularly fond of pairing this dish with fish – for the quickest tasty weeknight meal, it is the perfect partner for that hot-smoked ocean trout you can buy in vacuum packs at the deli or supermarket. Too easy!

Ingredients

For the Salad 

2 x oranges
1 small fennel bulb
1/4 red onion
1 handful fresh mint leaves
1 handfull fresh dill
1 handful toasted hazelnuts (ideally, buy raw ones and toast briefly under a grill at home)
5 – 10 green olives (I like to use those bright green Sicilian ones)

For the dressing 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

This recipe serves 4 as a side dish.

Orange, Fennel and hazelnut salad ingredients. Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

METHOD

Orange, Fennel and hazelnut salad ingredients. Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

This is another one of those ridiculously simple dishes where a recipe is barely warranted.  Really, you can  just look at these pictures and slice / compile accordingly.  HOWEVER, for the sake of tradition I’ll give you the briefest run down! -

For the dressing, pop all ingredients in a glass jar, including finely chopped shallot. Shake well.  You may need a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, and you can also add a pinch of raw brown sugar if its a bit too sour for your tastebuds.

Slice your oranges into circles about 3-4mm thick, removing all peel, pith and pips.  Slice your fennel and red onion very finely, using a mandolin if you have one.  Chop your toasted hazelnuts roughly with a large kitchen knife.  Using a smaller paring knife, slice your your green olives into halves or quarters (I don’t have an olive de-pipper, but one would come in handy here!). Wash your fresh herbs, handpicking the best looking leaves and removing any woody stalks.

Compile your salad onto individual plates.  Garnish with your fresh herbs, and dress generously. Serve immediately.

This is the final instalment for this round of ‘Salad Queen’ – it’s been so fun,  thanks for having me!  Next week we have a truly incredible menu of plant-based, raw and/or superfood ideas from Catie of The Staple Store in Melbourne… can’t wait to share them with you!

The aftermath!  Plate from Marimekko.  Photo Eve Wilson, recipe and styling Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.