This simple, light salad makes a great starter course for a special holiday meal. Bright colors and seasonal flavors set the stage for a festive dinner and pack a good fiber punch.
Fennel, cooked or raw, is a favorite winter veggie throughout Italy, but the addition of oranges makes this more Sicilian in character. Use Kalamata olives or small brown-purple olives named for Gaeta, a charming port town not far from Rome. Note that any good brine-cured Mediterranean-type olives can be used. Serve with a dry white wine such as pinot grigio or verdicchio.
2 fennel bulbs, sliced very thin
2 blood oranges or another orange in season
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and white pepper
about 24 Gaeta olives or other Mediterranean-style black olives, pitted
Cut off stems and feathery leaves from fennel bulbs and reserve for another use or discard. Cut away and toss any discolored areas of bulbs. Halve each bulb lengthwise and cut away tough core. Cut halves crosswise into very thin slices.
Using sharp knife, cut slice off both ends of each orange to reveal flesh. Place orange upright on cutting board and, using knife, cut downward to remove peel and pith, following contour of fruit. Cut orange in half through stem end, then slice each half crosswise as thinly as possible. Eliminate any seeds and visible pith.
Divide fennel slices among four plates. Sprinkle orange slices over fennel, again dividing evenly, and drizzle olive oil evenly over top. Season with salt and white pepper, and scatter about six olives on each plate. Let stand a few minutes before serving, to give orange slices time to release some juice into fennel.
Per Serving: 160 calories; 9.0 g fat (1.2 g saturated fat, 1.1 g polyunsaturated fat, 6.3 g monounsaturated fat); 0 g cholesterol; 323 mg potassium; 20.8 g total carbohydrate; 6.4 g dietary fiber; 2.6 g protein.