Friday, May 16, 2014

It's Salad Daze...Recipe is “Fennel and Orange Salad” Delicious!!

As you participate in activities outside, with the warm weather, you will want to prepare quick and nutritious meals for your family. Well not to worry, because May is “National Salad Month." Who knew that a whole month was allocated to celebrate and enjoy the “salad?” What can be more simple and easy so you are not stuck in the kitchen cooking all day by a stove or oven? So, let’s make a tasty salad!

Salads can be served as an appetizer to stimulate your appetite, a side dish that will accompany your main course, or for your entrée which would include your protein. (beef, pork, chicken, or fish) Desserts can also be called salads if you add gelatin and whipped cream for a delicious sweet treat or fruits for an Ambrosia salad. The salad can be made from many different ingredients, not just lettuce such as, vegetables, legumes, eggs, cheese, and pasta. They may be served either cold or hot, often raw vegetables are added and many sweet fruits. 

The word “salad” comes from the French “salade” which has the same meaning. The first appearance of the word “salad” was in the 14th century. Salt is also associated with salad because the vegetables were seasoned with a brine or a type of vinegar dressing. The “Salad Bar” term first appeared in American English in 1976. Many food historians say that the Romans ate mixed greens and dressing over two thousand years ago. In the United States the “salad” became very popular in the late 19th century. Throughout the second half of the 20th century salads have been sold in supermarkets, at restaurants, (salad bars) and even fast food chains that appeal to the health conscious customer.

A simple “green salad” or “garden salad” is the most common to be consumed. It is composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, and arugula cut into bite sized pieces. Due to their low caloric intake, salads are a common diet food.  Other vegetables can be added to your “tossed salad” which could include; cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, nuts, and so many others too numerous to mention. That is what is so wonderful about a salad; you can make it your own by adding whatever you would like. There is no right or wrong, no special recipe, and you can use what is in season. 

Sauces for salads are often called “dressings”. In our Western culture, there are three basic types of salad dressing; the first is called the Vinaigrette, which is an emulsion of salad oil mixed with vinegar, spices and herbs, plus salt and pepper. The second one is Creamy Dressings; usually a mayonnaise based, but may contain yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk. The last is the Cooked Dressings, which resemble creamy, but are usually thickened by adding egg yolks with a gentle heating. In North America, mayonnaise based Ranch dressing is most popular, with vinaigrettes and Caesar-style follows close behind. Some other popular dressings are Italian, Blue Cheese, Russian, French, and Honey Dijon Mustard.

In my Italian family, there was never a dinner without a huge bowl of salad. My family would always say, that there was, “always room for salad“. Served along side our entrée or at the end of our meal, was mostly a green tossed salad with all the trimmings. An Italian vinaigrette dressing which consisted of the finest olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, and spices which were drizzled on top of the salad. It was so tangy and sweet at the same time. Preparing any kind of salad is easy especially now you can purchase pre-washed salad greens at the supermarket or by supporting your local farmer’s market. So, no matter what type of salad you make for lunch, brunch or dinner, remember enjoy, and make family memories together.

My recipe this week is called, “Fennel and Orange Salad.” One night I was watching “Ciao Italia” with Mary Ann Esposito. I saw her make this recipe. It looked so colorful and delicious that I had to try it. I have adapted this recipe to my families’ likings. It's a lovely Italian salad (Sicilian in origin, apparently), where fennel provides a lovely and slightly aniseedy crunch, the orange provides the necessary sweetness, the onion the sharpness, and the nuts will add texture. The taste is sweet and the red onion adds a twist to its flavor. 

The fennel (also called finocchina) is known since ancient times for its aromatic properties, its horticultural crop dates back to 1500. It is a diuretic, antispasmodic, and an anti-inflammatory. It is known that "anfrom," the seeds of this plant is very effective in the treatment of abdominal digestive problems. In the kitchen you can use all parts of the fennel. The white heart can be eaten raw in salads. It can also be boiled, broiled, and can be added to stews. Finocchio stems from the Italian region of Sicily. The so-called "seeds" are mainly used for flavoring Taralli (Apulia), donuts, and other baked sweets. So enjoy your salad and be creative with your ingredients. Let your imagination soar!

“Fennel and Orange Salad”

1 medium blood orange, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium navel orange, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium fennel trimmed and thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced 
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and ground pepper to taste
A mixture of salad leaves Endive, Arugula, Baby Spinach, etc. A handful of walnut halves, toasted (almonds would be fine as well)

Peel the oranges (remove as much of the white pith as possible) and cut crosswise into thin slices. Remove the hard bottom part of the fennel bulbs and discard, cut the fennel into thin slices. Peel the red onion, cut into thin slices. Place orange juice, orange, fennel, and onion slices into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper. Next drizzle with olive oil. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours at room temperature, mixing couple of times. To serve: place on top of salad leaves, including any juices. Garnish with toasted chopped walnuts or almonds.

*******Optional: you may want to add to your salad 1/2 cup whole, pitted Kalamata olives. If you can’t find Blood Oranges, Naval Oranges will do. 

Till Next Time……

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved.


  1. Dear Dottie, There was always a salad at dinner in my family too. There are so many delicious salads. I think that Italians turn so many dishes into salads and they are all delicious; especially dipping the bread in the dressings.
    I do love fennel salad with the orange.
    Have a beautiful weekend. Blessings dear, Catherine

  2. Dear Catherine, Should I say good evening or good morning. I see that you are a night owl as well. Thank you for visiting. Oh, my I tell you Catherine, I could eat salads all the time. They are amazing and whatever you put on it or in the salad is marvelous and so tasty. Anything goes. Yes, especially dipping the bread into the dressing. I remember a time when my mom would make a big tomato salad with some basil, and just olive oil. Then we would have grilled cheese sandwiches and dip in the bread into the oil with the spices. Awesome! Fennel is so good for you and so many people have no idea what it is or how to use it. It is one of the first things that we put on our holiday table after dinner. Amazing!..Have a blessed weekend...Dottie :)

  3. Good evening Dottie , your post is deliciously good . this salad is ight down my family's alleey . weather is nice and there will be a lot of outside cooking and dining . Eating light is the ay to o .
    Next 2 weeks are very busy for me . As you know I have 4 kids (K to 6grade), 2 girls, 2 boys , the girls are in the middle . My oldest girl is graduating from 5th grade to middle school . My baby boy is graduating from kindergarten to 1st grade ;-D go figure . I am saving my posts and hope to do 3/4 until June . Between them and getting the plants into the ground , time flies . Have a great weekend and blessings to you my dear . Thanks for sharing :) ~Nee

    1. Dear Nee,
      Thanks for stopping by to visit. Love salads and like you said eating light is the way to go, especially in the summer. Wow, you are busy...God bless your children, and their going into the next years classes. I don't know how you do it Nee, 4 kids and the are an amazing woman. Plus your blog and the house, planting, etc. God Bless you! I don't blame you for saving some posts...I can understand and time does really fly. You have a blessed wonderful weekend dear Nee.
      Dottie :)

    2. Dear Dottie , I got a kick when I read your reply ;-D , I am busy now because school will be out this month , trying to get the things they need . I am blessed to have a mother's helper . I only oversee the planting off the garden , there is a gardener that do all the work . My blog is quite easy ... I don't do research unless it's for helpful hints . I just cook and take a snapshot .
      You dear Dottie I admire you for the research you put into your posts .
      I meant my time was flying so many thing to get done for the kids , but thankful , I finish today .
      Have a blessed weekend my dear Dottie and blessing to you . :) Nee

    3. Dear Nee, So happy that I made you smile with my answer to you. You are truly blessed to have a mother's helper. I used to do that when I was young, I was a mother's helper for one summer. But I went crazy with all the kids and never did that again. I was also a religious teacher years ago, I had 2 nd grade communion class with 30 children. But they only came to the school once a week or so and only for about 2 hours. That was hard too. I was not used to all the children. I only had two brothers and I was the oldest. Then when I got married I only had one son, (who is 38 now) so I never had the busy lifestyle like you. Now that gardener is I am sure a God send. That makes me feel a little better for you. I was almost in tears when I read what you wrote. Thank you for admiring me for my research on my posts. Please don't even consider that. I am home all the time and can't work anymore due to my illnesses, my son is living upstate NY, so I do not have much to do. I enjoy doing the research for my posts, it gives you all a sense of what I am writing about as well as I am learning so much too. I now totally understand this month of May and June is going to go very quickly. Hope that you get everything done. See we both admire each other for different reasons. You also have a blessed weekend, Nee dear friend. :) Dottie

  4. Such a beautiful salad, Dottie, and healthy too! My mother adores fennel, but unfortunately for me I do not :( I don't like things with the licorice type flavor :( I wish I did, but alas, my tastebuds turn their bad on me! Have a lovely week!

    1. Hi Christina,
      Thank you for your visit....So glad that you enjoyed my post and your comments are so generous. Yes, it is a healthy and beautiful salad, but sorry that you don't like the flavor or the fennel. I think some people either love it or don't like it. But that is fine, we can't all like everything. I on the other hand love it, if you eat it raw, it is like a celery type, but has that licorice flavor. I understand, maybe your mom would like the salad. Thanks... next time, I think you may enjoy my next recipe..You also have a blessed and a good week ahead... Dottie :)