Orange and Fennel Salad, a Sicilian Specialty

A plate with oranges and fennel on it.

You can prepare orange and fennel salad, a true Italian specialty, wherever you are. Combine healthy ingredients for a light yet flavorful meal. 

Nothing says summer like a light cold salad. Yet, it is wintertime now—unless you live somewhere in the South Pacific—so who wants to eat something cold? I think no one. 

A plate with oranges and fennel on it.

Because it is so snowy and cold out, you are probably thinking about a rich and hearty dish of pasta and beans or a bowl of energizing vegetable soup; yet this salad is everything you would ever want in wintertime. I can see you knitting your brows; you dont believe me. This salad is a typical Sicilian dish, which comes in several versions according to local traditions. The most representative Italian fruit is dressed with top-quality olive oil, salt, and pepper. Nothing more.       

What is this salad good for?

Well, Christmas time is over, and I know we have eaten too much: some delicious sweets, a few rich dishes. Now it is time to follow your new years resolutions. What are yours? Taking walks regularly, going running, doing yoga, taking up a hobby you really like? If you want to motivate yourself to get fit and healthy, orange and fennel salad will become one of your favorite recipes.     

You don’t need much, but…

A few top-quality oranges and fennel bulbs. Then add a little Italian extra virgin olive oil and some freshly ground pepper, which adds taste and personality. You don’t think you are a chef? Well, you can make a ton of new friends with this recipe. 

Sliced white onions on a plate.

When can you have it?

It provides you with plenty of fiber and vitamins either for lunch or dinner. When a sweet wedge of orange meets a slice of crunchy fennel, you will celebrate this perfect marriage of flavors. 

I think this salad pleases adults and children alike. I am sure your partner will like this salad as it is a simple but fancy dish for a romantic dinner. 

Warning: Do not make this salad ahead of time. Make it right before serving to maintain its freshness and its taste. 

Prepare the oranges…

It is high time to become an expert in preparing oranges. Are you ready? 

Take a cutting board and a serrated knife or a chefs knife with a very sharp straight blade;  I prefer the latter.  

First of all, carefully peel the orange and discard the pith without cutting the flesh. Try to keep the orange wedges intact; they must be perfect to guarantee the ‘wow’ effect. 

  • Remove both the top and the bottom ends by slicing them, so the fruit wont slip away when you cut it; 
  • Keep the orange upright and then cut it vertically in the shape of wedges; remove the peel and the pith.  
  • Put the orange sideways on the cutting board and hold it firmly with one hand. Be careful not to squeeze it. 

However, if you prefer whole wedges: 

1. Place a bowl onto the table to gather the juice; 

2. Hold the peeled fruit in your hand and cut off the white pith with a very sharp knife. Slice accurately between the pith and the flesh. Discard all the pith but save the flesh. 

3. While holding the orange over the bowl, carefully cut next to the wedges and discard the pith surrounding each segment. 

Sliced oranges on a cutting board with a knife.

This is a bit more complicated, but it not a mission impossible.” 

Orange and Fennel Salad, a Sicilian Specialty

This is one of the most typical recipes from Sicily. Despite being a fresh salad, it is a winter recipe. Why should you prepare it? It is fast and makes a healthy light meal with a few simple ingredients. 
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Keyword fennel, orange, orange fennel salad, salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 oranges
  • 2 medium-sized fennel bulbs
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil 
  • salt and pepper
  • Extra: fresh fennel fronds to taste 
Servings 2 people


  • Peel the oranges as I have described above, cut them into thin slices;
  • Clean the fennel bulbs; then discard the external, tough fronds and the stalks; set aside some fennel fronds to garnish; 
  • Wash and dry the fennel bulbs. Use a mandolin or upright grater to shred the fennel; 
  • In a plate, combine the shredded fennel and orange slices. Dress them with oil, salt, and pepper. Garnish with some roughly broken stalks to taste.

Looking for variations? Here are 5 more possibilities!

These variations are as flavorful as the traditional recipe.

  • Replace the fennel bulbs with pitted black or green olives. Dont forget about walnuts; they fit the traditional recipe perfectly; 
  • Add smoked herrings or some oil-cured mackerel. Finely dice one herring; add a finely sliced green onion and some chopped parsley; 
  • A more elaborate version is to soak two tablespoons of raisins in orange juice for 15 minutes (to rehydrate). Then toast a tablespoon of pine nuts in a pan (their taste gets even richer). In a mixing bowl, combine the shaved fennel bulbs, orange slices, raisins, pine nuts, and a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds. In a jar, combine olive oil, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, salt, and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon. Close the lid and shake well; dress your salad. You have just made an amazing dish. 
  • Finally, why dont you combine the oranges with capers? Wash off any excess salt from the capers, add them to the oranges and follow the main recipe. 

Try all these versions and then create YOUR OWN salad, something your guests will never forget.  

What can you combine this salad with?

This salad can accompany a delicate fish or meat course such as baked fish or grilled chicken. Combine everything with a loaf of rustic wheat or rye bread for a well-balanced and satisfying meal.    

A plate with oranges and fennel on it.

How can you store this salad? 

Prepare this salad and serve it right away. Put the leftovers into an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for one day. Dont freeze it.   

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