This week was supposed to be a big one. Like, epically huge. Finally, after months (six to be exact) of searching for the perfect property, followed by several weeks of negotiating and (not so patiently) waiting, we were scheduled to receive the keys to our new location on 2nd Avenue (hooray...sort of). I suppose the stress of it all finally got to me because mid-week, out of positively nowhere, I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever (sniffle, sniffle). Coming down with a flu during the winter months is expected, commonplace, and in some strange part of my brain a bit of a welcome retreat (ha! take that chores! I shall do nothing but wear sweatpants, watch movies and eat soup for the next three days!). But in the summer, particularly during such a major week, even the slightest sniffle makes it seem like the sun gods (and every other god for that matter) are working against you.
For three full days, my fever stuck with me like an unwelcome house guest. Each time I tried to fight him by, say, tending to my garden or dipping my toes in the pool, he reminded me he was indeed still lingering (cue the cold chills...). Finally, by day two I gave in, surrendering myself to the indoors and piles of afghans and bad magazines. The chef was kind enough to whip me up a quick chicken and rice soup, which he made using bok choy and a quart of smoked chicken stock we had in the freezer, the final remnant from our most recent bacon-smoking experiment. But on day three, the chef finally ditched me in order to pick up the keys (!!!), leaving me to fend for myself. I was really craving something fresh, cooling and super low-maintainence, which is when I found inspiration in our crisper drawer full of citrus.
Thanks to four different types of citrus fruit and a handful of fresh mint, this salad is wildly refreshing, perfect for a humid summer afternoon (or perhaps for one when, thanks to a flu, you just feel incredibly warm). Likewise, the combination of fresh and roasted fennel offers this salad both a satisfying licorice crunch as well as a more rustic, slightly sweet complement to the vibrant citrus rounds. I hope you'll enjoy it.
Citrus Salad w/ Roasted Fennel & Mint
- 1 fennel bulb, divided in half (rinse and roughly chop the reserved fronds)
- extra virgin olive oil
- coarse salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 navel orange
- 1 mineola orange
- 1/2 lemon
- 10-12 fresh mint leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice one half of the fennel bulb into 1/4-inch slices and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the fennel slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, flip, and roast for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Cut the peel and pith from the grapefruit, the navel orange, and the mineola orange and slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds, being sure to reserve the cut peels. Slice the remaining half of the fennel bulb into very thin slices. Add the roasted fennel, the raw fennel and the citrus rounds to a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, add the juice from 1/2 lemon as well as approximately 1/2 tablespoon of grapefruit juice, 1/2 tablespoon of navel orange juice and 1/2 tablespoon of mineola orange juice (extract this juice from the fruit remaining on the cut peels). Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and whisk. Pour the dressing over the salad and add a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Garnish with mint and reserved fennel fronds and gently mix before serving.