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Dinner Tonight: Fennel, Olive, and Citrus Salad

You can barely call this a recipe: it involves thinly slicing a couple ingredients, adding some olives, and tossing with olive oil. But it's just one of those magical combinations that works. Fennel and citrus belong together, but the addition of olives adds a little twist to the citrus acidity, giving it a briny undertone. The whole lemon goes in, including peel, which adds some textural interest.

This salad comes from Lidia Bastianich, the self-proclaimed (and probably deserved) First Lady of Italian Cooking. Her book Lidia's Family Table is full of recipes that are Italian in a way that's full-bodied and exuberant, but at the same time subtle and unique. I recognize the dishes as classics, but her Istrian roots keep them from being boring. Here, she suggests pairing this piquant salad with a piece of grilled fish, but it would also be great with roast chicken. A little of this salad goes a long way—you wouldn't want to eat it on its own.

Fennel and citrus, in season in winter, are also its foil; their bright and crunchy union is a welcome respite. And olives? Well, aren't those always in season?

About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.

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