Like flavors or colors, we crave a balance of textures as well. And in the midst of summer, nothing pleases my palate more than crunch and bright acidity. This salad cures my texture woes and and my taste ones too. The fennel and mint have herbaceous depth, the apples are tart and delicious, and the blood oranges are luxurious and really really pretty. It's the perfect summer salad and a great way to start a meal. Enjoy!
3 Blood Oranges
3 Pink Lady Apples
1 Fennel bulb
12 large mint leaves, julienned
8 oz Butter lettuce leaves (or Mache)
Freshly ground Black Pepper
over a small bowl, slice the blood oranges into supremes. This is easiest done by slicing off the bottom and top of the orange, slicing off the skin and pulp, and then slice between the fine white lines of pith between each wedge. This way you get wedges of orange without any pulp or pith, making them incredibly easy to eat. Once you finish slicing one orange, squeeze the remaining pulp and juice over the bowl. Do this for each orange and reserve the juice. Strain the juice (you'll probably have about a 1/4 cup), add a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and adjust. It should be well seasoned and with just a little acidic tartness. Don't go crazy on the olive oil or you'll lose all of the blood orange flavor.
To finely slice the fennel and apples. I used a mandoline. I also cut myself in the process, which made slicing those oranges a wincing ordeal, so be careful if you use one. If you don't have a mandoline, just slice them as thinly as you can. Slice the apples slightly thinner than the fennel, and slice them horizontally to get that beautiful star pattern in the center. Slice the fennel in half, to keep the pieces manageable. If you're making the salad ahead of time, cover the apples with lemon juice to keep them from browning. Compose the salad with orange wedges on top, and there you go!