This is an appeal for the sake of my friend, the Fennel. I feel the need to glorify her (fennel look female, right?) because in my humble opinion she does not get enough attention from the home cook. Here in Israel, especially abundant in winter, you can find her under the name "shamir" where she sits neglected in the supermarket bin waiting for her time to shine. To add to her misery, she is usually tragically shorn of her pretty fronds. The fronds are the leaves of the fennel that resemble dill and taste like the bulb itself but a little more fragrant. I always get a kick out of the fronds which sit atop the bulb looking like it just came back from an Israeli hair salon (if you've been you know what I mean) or like Edward Scissor-hands got a little too close. Fennel to me tastes like a cross between black licorice and celery (ok, I can understand a little how that description would keep you away) with a very mild taste and it is delightfully crunchy and refreshing. It is good raw, roasted or grilled and really adds great flavor to salads. Fennel and orange are a great match and in this simple and beautiful salad its flavor is highlighted by the citrus dressing and orange segments while pomegranate seeds add crunch, tartness, and of course beauty. Enjoy!
3 bulbs fennel, cleaned and sliced thin
1 large orange, segmented, reserve the juice
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries in a pinch a.k.a, the jewels
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
3 Tablespoons reserved orange juice (or use bottled 100% orange juice)
2 Tablespoons chardonnay vinegar (substitute with white wine vinegar if needed)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup, agave, or honey
salt and pepper to taste
Arrange the salad ingredients in a bowl or pretty platter, whisk the dressing, pour over the salad and serve.