Fresh and full of flavour this Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad is delicious on its own or served as a side dish. Juicy and sweet oranges, finely sliced onion and fennel with pine nuts, mint and pink peppercorns.
Fennel and orange is a combination that's classic in Sicilian cuisine and something I've put off trying for years.
I'm not usually a fan of fruit in savoury dishes but wow this salad is so surprisingly delicious. It's fresh, vibrant and full of flavour and it couldn't be easier to make.
It's commonly eaten in Sicily during the winter months when oranges and fennel are both in season and taste their very best.
There are a few different variations of this salad some including black olives which although traditional I prefer it without. The addition of olives would be delicious if serving it with fish such as pan-fried sea bass.
The pink peppercorns just make this salad pop making is such a beautiful and elegant dish that's perfect for serving during the festive season.
See the recipe below including notes on ingredients, step by step photos, tips, variations and a video tutorial. For the full printable recipe scroll to the bottom or click the recipe link below
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Orange - use ripe and firm navel oranges or blood oranges.
- Fennel - when choosing fennel go for the smaller bulbs which are more tender and those that are firm without any browning.
- Onion - thinly sliced white onion or Sicilian Tropea onions work really well.
- Mint - only use fresh mint for this and if you don't have it you can leave it out.
- Pink peppercorns - this is an optional addition that gives both a pop of colour to the salad and flavour. You can skip it if you like.
- Pine nuts and/or black olives - these are traditionally added to the salad. I personally prefer it without the olives but love adding pine nuts.
Step by step photos and instructions
Cut the green tops and bottom off the fennel. Standing it upright, slice it as thinly as you can with a knife or you can use a mandolin if you have one (photos 1 and 2).
Tip: to stop the fennel turning brown as you cut it add it to a bowl of cold water with 1-2 ice cubes or lemon juice (photo 3).
Cut the onion in half, cut off the top and peel the skin. Thinly slice half of the onion and keep the remaining half for something else (photo 4).
Next, cut the top and bottom off the oranges and cut the peel off making sure to cut as much of the white pith as possible without removing the orange flesh. Turn it on its side and cut the orange into slices (photos 5-7).
If in water, pat the fennel dry on kitchen paper then arrange on a serving plate. Add the slices of orange on top and scatter over the sliced onion. Season everything with salt.
Sprinkle over some crushed pink peppercorns, drizzle generously with olive oil and top with mint leaves, serve (photo 8).
- Buying fennel - look for small to medium sized fennel bulbs with little to no browning. Make sure to trim off any brown bits on the outer edge if there are any.
- Cutting the fennel - Slice as thinly as possible or use a mandolin. Fennel will oxidise and start to turn brown once cut so to prevent it from happening you can add to a bowl of cold water with 1-2 ice cubes. If you don't have ice you can add around 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the water.
- Use good quality olive oil - drizzling good quality extra virgin olive oil makes such a difference in flavour.
Two ingredients often seen in this fennel and orange salad are black olives and pine nuts or almonds. Olives go particularly well when serving this salad with fish.
Blood oranges are also delicious in this as is grapefruit which gives the salad a more bitter flavour.
More delicious salads to try
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📖 Full Recipe
Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad
- 2 oranges navel or blood oranges
- 2 small-medium sized fennel bulbs
- ½ onion
- 1 small handful fresh mint leaves
- pink peppercorns (lightly bashed to crush)
- pine nuts (optional)
- olive oil (good quality)
- Cut the green tops and bottom off the fennel. Standing it upright, slice it as thinly as you can with a knife or you can use a mandolin if you have one.
- Tip: to stop the fennel turning brown as you cut it add it to a bowl of cold water with 1-2 ice cubes.
- Cut the onion in half, cut off the top and peel the skin. Thinly slice half of the onion and keep the remaining half for something else.
- Next, cut the top and bottom off the oranges and cut the peel off making sure to cut as much of the white pith as possible without remove the orange flesh.
- Turn it on its side and cut the orange into slices.
- If in water, pat the fennel dry on kitchen paper then arrange on a serving plate. Add the slices of orange on top and scatter over the sliced onion. Season everything with salt.
- Sprinkle over some crushed pink peppercorns, drizzle generously with olive oil and top with mint leaves, serve.
- Prepare in advance - you can slice everything to prepare in advance. Make sure to keep the fennel in a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice to stop it from browning. Simply pat dry with kitchen paper before serving.
- Variations - black olives, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, blood oranges or grapefruit are great additions to this salad.
- I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
- When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use Cirio or Mutti brands for the best results and flavour.
- All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
- All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
- Find out more about how nutrition is calculated.
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