I set up this new site because lately Flavors of Rome seems like that favorite dress you were dazzling in 10 years ago that just doesn’t quite do it for you anymore. You try it on, look at yourself from all angles— it’s OK from the front; but, uh-oh, that side angle’s not so good. You could get one of those bone and organ crushing undergarments and maybe get away with it, but instead you take it off and stick it in the back of the closet. You just can’t let go of it…not yet. So you keep it there, glance at it now and then, and remember how it used to be.

FENNEL/ORANGESBut sometimes you have to let go of things, no matter how important they once were in your life. I’m still passionate about the food of Italy and forever in love with Rome, and I have notebooks filled with my adventures and file folders bursting with recipes. So what to do with all this material that made up my life for so many years—beside never running out of things to make for dinner?

I can write about it.  And I can post recipes, such as this one for Fennel and Orange Salad, at its best when blood oranges are available, and, like almost all salads in Italy, an uncomplicated mix of a few fresh and top quality ingredients. I think Julius Caesar would have loved this salad had blood oranges been around in his time.

 

 

Fennel and Orange Salad

Insalata di finocchio e arancia is a favorite of the Romans, present day Romans, that is, and not the citizens of the Great Empire who couldn’t have made it anyway. Only one of the main ingredients, fennel, was even known in Ancient Rome, and oranges weren’t introduced into Sicily until the 10th century by the Arabs.

Although navels or other “regular” oranges can be used, blood oranges with their dramatic ruby flesh and less acidic flavor make this salad particularly delicious and, along with the greenish-white fennel and black olives, so visually appealing.

Blood oranges are available in most American markets at this time of year, but only for a short time. So rush out and get them while you can and try this refreshing, healthful, and low calorie salad. Serve it in a glass bowl and you have a beautiful reddish, white, and green display on your table.

Quantities listed below are arbitrary. Adjust according to taste and number of serviOR'FN SLDngs desired.

3-4 blood oranges peeled and cut into bite size pieces or whole sections
2-3 medium fennel bulbs, remove outer layers and cut into small slices
3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of black olives, oil cured or other
coarse sea salt, to taste

Buon Appetito!

Now about that other salad:

Don’t go in search of a Caesar Salad in Italy, because you won’t find it.

Not Roman or even Italian at all, the classic Caesar Salad (according to conventional opinion) was invented by a restaurateur and chef in Tijuana, Mexico in the early 20th century.

Unfortunately what comes out of too many American kitchens these days is a heavy, creamy perversion of the original that would be better called the Caligula, or What Mess Hath the Barbarians Wrought.

When properly made as its creator Cesare Cardini did with fresh ingredients (romaine, lemon juice, coddled egg, mashed garlic cloves, ground black pepper, croutons, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the inclusion of anchovies is disputed), this salad, named for a mortal, would have been fit even for Julius, the god of all Caesars.

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