Fennel Blood Orange Salad with Arugula
This fennel blood orange salad with arugula is fresh and healthy with peppery greens, crunchy fennel bulbs, and sweet, juicy blood oranges tossed in a simple vinaigrette. Great for clean eating! Make it a full meal with some added chicken sausage!
I wasn’t planning to post this recipe, but I am so excited about the photos I had to share it with you!
Are they the best photos I’ve ever taken? No, those were lost when my computer died a couple months ago. But I think they’re pretty good, and guess what! They were taken indoors, at night, with artificial light.
See, my wonderful husband knew how discouraged I was that it’s already dusk by the time I get home from work now that it’s winter, and how stressful it is to try to take photos on a weekend when there’s some daylight and hope it’s not gray and cloudy and we don’t have other daytime plans. Even though I LOVE natural light photos, it seems nearly impossible in winter.
So for Christmas he bought me the Lowel EGO Light I’ve heard so much about on other blogs and have been eyeing for months. It’s a really bright daylight balanced tabletop softbox, and even has a super convenient tripod mount. I took a lot of these photos with the light halfway across the room and they still came out great! It’s perfect because it gives you non-yellow directional lighting. Overhead kitchen lights make your shots look flat, tint yellow, AND give you really harsh shadows where you don’t want them. Triple win!
I brought my new light out the other day just to experiment with it and see if I could snap a couple decent shots. And I was so impressed with the quality I decided to share them with you in this post. Plus, the salad was great!
This is a fennel blood orange salad with arugula from my still-current-favorite cookbook, Salad of the Day from Williams-Sonoma. I’ve shared another recipe from this book with you before, the flank steak, potato, and green bean salad, which is so awesome.
Today’s salad is actually the January 1 salad, the first one in the book. So symbolic! It brings to mind new resolutions and new beginnings. Mike and I have some resolutions in the new year – to slow down, simplify, and be more intentional about relaxing. Part of that includes simple, healthy, home-cooked meals without a lot of prep or cleanup. Ahhhh, makes you want to just take a deep breath of relief, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s just me.
This fit the bill. The ingredients are few – a three-ingredient salad with a very simple viniagrette, but interesting enough to feel gourmet, and the variety of flavors and textures balance each other perfectly.
First, there’s the arugula – a bitter, peppery, dark green. I used a baby arugula and radicchio blend, which is a bit milder than its adult counterpart.
Then there’s fennel – and lots of it. Each of us ate an entire fennel bulb, sliced paper-thin. Holy cow! It’s very filling and full of all sorts of nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber! It’s crunchy but not harsh, mildly sweet with a hint of anise. I can’t tell you how much I love fennel – even though I hate black licorice. A short soak in the viniagrette softens the flavor too. A salad should have a little crunch, and since it doesn’t come from the greens here, fennel does the trick.
Finally, blood orange. Another ingredient I go “oooh” over whenever it comes up. There’s just something special about a blood orange you don’t get with a regular naval orange. It’s sweeter and richer and stunningly beautiful. And it adds yet another flavor and texture dimension to the arugula and fennel.
The salad is bitter, sweet, tangy (from the dressing), juicy, and crunchy, all at once, but not too loud about the whole thing. And the dressing couldn’t be more simple. Olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. But it’s all this fennel blood orange salad needs because it lets the ingredients shine through in their purest form.
Since this fennel blood orange salad was our whole meal, and I’m trying to clean out our pantry, fridge, and freezer, we added in some Aidells chicken and apple sausage that had been in the freezer since (gasp!) last April. It tasted good as new and was just the right thing to go with this salad.
Cleanup is pretty simple with this too – a cutting board, a big bowl, a mandoline, and if you’re adding the sausage, a pan. Oh so good, so fresh, and makes me feel like I’m starting off the year right – simple and healthy.
“I bet this is the best Christmas present you’ve ever gotten, isn’t it?” Mike asked me. Definitely up at the top. I am so thrilled about my new light and I hope it will make sharing recipes with you much easier and lower stress this year!
Do you have any New Years resolutions? Please share yours in the comments!
And in the meantime, enjoy this fennel blood orange salad!
Fennel Blood Orange Salad with Arugula
- 2 Fennel bulbs greens cut off
- 4 Blood oranges
- 4 cups arugula
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 Aidells chicken apple sausage links optional, if serving as main course
- Cut fennel bulbs in half from root to end and slice paper-thin on a mandoline into U-shaped slices.
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil slowly while whisking constantly, or add in the oil and blend the dressing with a handheld milk frother.
- Toss fennel and arugula in a large bowl with the dressing.
- Cut blood oranges in half and cut off the peel and pith with a knife. Slice each orange half into three rings.
- If serving as a main course, slice sausage links lengthwise into two halves and cook over medium high in a pan or indoor grill until charred on both sides.
- Divide salad mixture between plates. Top with blood oranges and three sausage halves.
Okay, the salad rocks. You know that. Love the sausage on the side, too. But what excites me most, as a fellow blogger, is the light! I want one! Now. It is so hard to be a blogger when you have a full time job that takes up all your daylight! Thanks for sharing all of this…
Truer words were never spoken: It is SO HARD!!! Especially in the winter! I just know the light is going to be life-changing. (or at least blog-changing!) Seems like a small thing but it’s HUGE when all your photos have been flat and yellow and totally unappetizing. Even some photos I managed to take of some pulled pork and collards near dusk with natural light just looked weird; I could not fix the color to where they looked appealing, and my camera used the highest ISO so when I looked at them on my computer they were too grainy. I am going to have to make that one again.
I might have to write up a little review of the light after playing with it a bit more.
Not just hard – impossible. I have even tried setting the camera on its Incandescent Light mode, and so on, but still it makes food look unappetizing. I just made a dish last night that would have made for a greta post… except the light. Oh well, there is always the weekends… which is when I do all my photo work.