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Blood Orange Salad with Shaved Fennel and Hazelnuts

Blood Orange Salad with Shaved Fennel and Hazelnuts
Deeply nutty hazelnuts along with their assertive oil enhance a simple salad of sweet-sour blood oranges and anise-scented fennel. Served together, the few ingredients combine to make a first-course salad that is as beautiful as it is delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 blood oranges
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • About 1/3 cup hazelnut oil
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Cut a thin slice off the blossom and stem end of 1 orange to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange upright and slice off the peel and pith in thick strips, cutting from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit. Cut the orange crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices and remove any seeds from the slices with the tip of a knife. Repeat with the remaining oranges.

If the fennel stalks are still attached, trim them off and reserve for another use or discard. Reserve a few of the feathery fronds for garnish. Remove and discard the outer layer of the bulb if it is tough, or cut away any discolored areas. Halve the bulb lengthwise and trim the base of the core. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut the fennel bulb halves into paper-thin slices; you should have about 1 cup sliced fennel. Set aside.

In a small, dry fry pan over medium-low heat, toast the hazelnuts, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool. Rub the hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins and then coarsely chop.

Arrange the blood orange slices on a platter or individual plates. Top with the fennel slices and then with the chopped nuts. Generously drizzle each salad with hazelnut oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and garnish with small pieces of the fennel fronds. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, by Amy Sherman (Oxmoor House, 2008).