Orange Fennel Vinaigrette
A tangy vinaigrette that can be used as a salad dressing or with seafood.
WHAT IS FENNEL?
If you are not familiar with fennel, it is an herb with a medium sized bulb, long stalks like celery and feathery fronds at the top. Fennel is a great and versatile ingredient. It has an anise or licorice smell and flavor that can work with American, Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. All parts of the fennel are edible and used in numerous cooking application from raw salads to soups to pan sauces and even desserts. If washed and stored properly it can last refrigerated for up to two weeks.
ORANGE VINAIGRETTE WITH FENNEL
I came up with this orange vinaigrette for an arugula salad with avocados, pecans, radishes and goat cheese because I had some leftover fennel from another dish. I also have a large pantry of dried spices so I get to use my spice grinder. It has become one of my favorite tools in the kitchen even though it only sees me about fourteen times a year. The primary use in my kitchen is for black peppercorns so I would always have fresh ground pepper.
This recipe is not hard to make. I took a different approach as most dressings are prepped cold. This recipe is prepared mostly in a sauté pan. The majority of the time was waiting for it to cool and chill. But, it can always made ahead of time. It should store well in the refrigerator for a week or two.
We first start by making an orange syrup. Combine 1/2 cup water, *orange supremes from half an orange and sugar in a small sauté small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and reduce till only 2 tablespoons of liquid are left. Remove from heat and reserve.
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
Grind the mustard seeds and fennel seeds together. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you could use a mortar and pestle or a heavy knife to crush the spices. Heat a medium sized sauté pan over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add the ground mustard and fennel, then cook the spices for 10 seconds. Next, add diced onions and fennel then sauté for 1 minute. Add garlic (not pictured), ginger and the orange supremes from the other half of the orange. Cook for 30 seconds incorporating ingredients so they cook evenly. Add all of the orange syrup and rice wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for one more minute.
Remove from heat and cool. Once it has cooled to room temperature stir in the remaining 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Chill the orange vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes.
There will be natural separation so mix well before use. The onions, fennel and oranges give this vinaigrette a nice body that binds this loose emulsion together. According to Best Recipes, a good ratio of oil to vinegar is approximately 6 to 1. There is some residual orange juice from the orange segments, but oranges are not highly acidic. In this case, I felt that a 2 to 1 ratio worked out well. You could always increase the olive oil according to taste. Enjoy!
*Tasting Notes: Orange supremes are the orange segments with the rind, white inner skin and seeds completely removed.
Fennel is a natural antioxidant that can help the body with inflammation. It has been used for digestive health to fix ailments such as bloating and heart burn .
Mustard seeds also low in calories are a low calorie antioxidant and antibacterial. Mustard seeds comes in brown or black and yellow or white. As a food source, they provide fiber, magnesium, selenium and manganese. They contain flavonoid antioxidants which have properties that studies have shown can assist with diabetes, cancer and heart disease.