Monday, January 4, 2010

Fennel and Orange Salad with Fresh Cranberries and Green Apple

From Knives Cooks Love: How to Buy, Sharpen, and Use Your Most Important Kitchen Tool

Bright, tangy, and full of flavors, this slawlike salad will jazz up a pork, chicken, or turkey main course. It also lets you hone your fennel slicing and orange-segmenting skills. Reducing the orange juice is the key to the dressing’s intense flavor.

Serves 4 as a side dish

²⁄3 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons sugar
3 navel or blood oranges (or a mix)
1 fennel bulb
¼ small red onion
1 small Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (see page 132)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
Freshly ground black pepper

Set a cutting board in a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any runaway cranberries). Cut the berries in half, cupping your hand over the spine of the knife to help prevent berries from popping off the board. Continue chopping them to medium-coarse pieces, as for a relish. Put the cranberries in a small bowl and toss with the sugar. Let macerate for about 20 minutes as you prepare the restof the ingredients.

Working over a bowl, segment the oranges (see page 150). Pick out any stray seeds. Separate the orange segments from their juice, reserving both in separate bowls. Peel away the outer layer of fennel if it isscuffed up or very fibrous. Quarter and core the fennel, and cut it into very thin crosswise slices (see page 119); you should have 2 to 2 ½ cups. Put the fennel in a large bowl. Cut the onion into very thin crosswise slices until you get ¼ cup (see page 94), and add it to the bowl.

Peel the apple and cut it into ³⁄8-inch-thick slices (see page 139). Cut the slices into ³⁄8- inch julienne strips and then crosswise into ³⁄8-inch dice; you should have 1 cup. Add the apple to the bowl with the fennel. Add the parsley to the bowl as well.

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, and a generous pinch of salt in a small dish. Pour the reserved orange juice into a very small saucepan. Give the orange segments a gentle squeeze to release additional juice and add the juices to the pan. Bring the juice to a simmer and let it reduce down to a thin, syrupy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes; you should have about 1 tablespoon of juice. Add it to the oil mixture.

Sprinkle the fennel mixture with the ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Scrape the cranberries, along with any juices, into the bowl. Add the orange segments (but not their juices, if any) and toss gently. Whisk the dressing and drizzle it over the salad. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. Taste and add salt if needed before serving.

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