Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad

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Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad

When I was a child in England, a salad usually meant one thing.

Or three things, to be precise. Lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes! Honestly, they are the only components that most people seemed to think belonged in a salad. So they would rustle up this same ‘salad’ to accompany their quiche lorraine or leftover cold roast beef every time. In a café or restaurant, you might occasionally find a little onion and ‘cress’ (a sort of peppery-tasting herb that seemed to appear everywhere at the time!) in there too, and get it brought to you with a bottle of then-fancy supermarket-bought ‘French dressing’. But that was pretty much as sophisticated as a salad would get!

The worst form in which to find said salad was the ‘side salad’. You would order a sandwich in a café (equally as uninventive as I remember!) and at the side of it there would be a couple of watery slices of cucumber and tomato sitting forlornly on top of a few limp dark green lettuce leaves!

Maybe it was just my family. Maybe it was just the places we ate. Maybe I’m exaggerating just a little. Hmm, no I actually don’t think so. But anyway, one thing is for sure. Happily, salads are a whole lot less frightful these days!

Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad

What about you? What kind of salads did you eat when you were a child? What’s your favourite kind of salad now? I’d love to hear about it!

So back then, or until far more recently to be honest, I could never have imagined roasting radishes and fennel and pairing it with orange and pistachios, for instance, for a salad! In fact, I could never have imagined eating fennel at all. I don’t think I even knew what it was!

Just in case you’ve never seen or tried fennel (don’t worry, I didn’t know what it looked like either until watching Jamie Oliver make a recipe with it on TV), this is what it looks like (at the bottom of the picture, obviously!):

Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad ingredients

It has a beautiful subtle sweet aniseed taste and is equally as tasty cooked with meat, like in this sausage & fennel pappardelle, or raw, like in this blueberry, fennel & feta quinoa salad. For this salad, you cut off the green stalky parts and chop up the white bulb into rounds, a bit like you would an onion. Perhaps best of all, you can save the dill-like fronds to garnish your dish with just before serving. Trust me, they massively up the pretty-ness factor of whatever you are making!

But what I discovered when I made this salad recently was that fennel is also delicious roasted! And so are radishes! I don’t know about you, but I don’t really think to buy radishes very much at all, but they went beautifully in this salad. Both taste-wise and because of their vibrant pink exterior. 

radishesfennel & radishes

We also had a bowlful of blood oranges at the time, which I had been dying to make something with … mostly as they’re so scary looking! So I decided to add some segments of these juicy red beauties into the mix as well.

Blood oranges

All that remained to finish off my colours-of-the-rainbow salad was to sprinkle over some pistachio nuts and mint leaves, crumble over a little feta cheese (I know, I’m obsessed! It’s just that feta really does make almost everything taste better. Ask the Greeks!) … and drizzle over the dressing.

Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad

Ah, the dressing! Let’s not forget that. To make it, I simply combined the juice and zest of the blood orange with half a lime, some olive oil, and a little balsamic vinegar and honey. I mistakenly whisked it up in a green dish so you might think it has a rather yucky tinge, but you’ll just have to trust me that it provided the perfect citrusy-sweet accompaniment for this salad. You also end up with a lot more dressing than you need, so you can pop it in the fridge and drizzle it over other salads or even grilled meats over the following week. I’m guessing that you could even use it as a tasty marinade for meat if you wanted to give that a try.

citrus salad dressing

I ate this with a little fresh crusty bread, but I think it could be pretty tasty with quinoa, couscous or any other kind of grain or carb you like.

Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad

I’m not sure I’ve ever made a more colourful salad than this. Maybe it should be called a ‘Happiness Salad’ because surely you couldn’t help but feel a little cheery when eating something so pretty!

Blood orange and roasted fennel & radish salad

Serves: Enough for 2 as a light lunch or 3 or 4 as an appetizer

Cheer yourself up with this refreshing and colourful salad of blood oranges with roasted fennel and radishes, pistachios and feta cheese. Roasting the fennel and radishes gives them a beautiful sweetness that contrasts perfectly with the citrus, nuts and cheese.
For the salad
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced like an onion (reserve the fronds)
  • 2.5 ounces/75 grams radishes, sliced
  • a little olive oil for roasting
  • 1 blood orange (or an ordinary orange is fine!), cut or pulled into segments
  • 1-2 ounces/30-50 grams of pistachio nuts
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint, leaves ripped off
  • 2 ounces/50 grams of feta cheese
For the dressing
  • juice of 1 blood orange (or ordinary orange)
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • ½ a cup/125 ml of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.
  2. Put the fennel and radish slices together in a roasting pan or baking dish and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Cover with tin foil and roast for 20 minutes. Then uncover and roast for a further 20 minutes until the fennel is tender.
  3. In the meantime, make the dressing. Simply whisk the juices with the olive oil, vinegar and honey and set aside.
  4. Spread the cooked fennel and radishes out on a large plate and add the orange segments, pistachio nuts, mint leaves and feta. You can also add a few of the reserved green fronds from the fennel.
  5. Drizzle over a little of the dressing (or serve the dressing on the side if you prefer). Serve with crusty fresh bread or in a bowl with some cooked quinoa, pasta, rice, couscous or other grain/carb of your choice.
If you would prefer this salad to be dairy-free, you could very easily leave out the feta cheese and it would still be delicious.

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  1. says

    I’m not from England, but my childhood salads did look very similar. Then again my grandma was growing everything so it made sense those were on the table on the time and with some home smoked ham and black rye bread it was a treat! Your salad looks beautiful, love that you’ve roasted the radishes too!

    • says

      Your childhood salads sound far more exciting than mine though, Gintare! Everything homegrown and homemade … wonderful! So glad you liked my salad … this was the first time I’d roasted fennel or radishes and I’ll definitely do it again :-)

  2. says

    I was slightly traumatized by boring salads in my adolescence as well!! But now I like to think I’m making up for it with more exciting salads. This one must be tried! Love all the fun veggies and fruits in it!

    • says

      Haha, glad I wasn’t the only one! ‘Slightly traumatised’ is a perfect description! Glad you like it, Joanne!

  3. says

    This takes the notion of salad to a whole new level, Helen! I love it – and have pinned to my perfect salad board. Fennel and blood orange is a beautiful ( in every sense of the word) combination.
    PS And such pretty pictures too :)

    • says

      Hello Natalie, and thank you! It didn’t really cross my mind when I was making it, but I guess this is an appropriate kind of salad for spring! It’s a lovely warm sunny day here today too, so doubly (is that a word?) appropriate!

    • says

      Hello Todd and thanks so much for passing by. I love ‘meeting’ new fellow foodies! So glad you liked the salad. It was a keeper if I do say so myself!

  4. says

    Hi Helen, I grew up with very similar salads, I remember the first time I saw a salad bar, I went crazy. Beautiful salad, love everything about this!

    • says

      Oh yes, salad bars! I remember those! Especially the ones at pizza hut. It was so exciting to go and fill up your bowl as high as you could … but then perhaps not so fun when the pizza came and you were already full! Glad you like my salad, Cheri. It was a pretty tasty one!

  5. says

    What a beautiful looking salad! Love all those colors! Haha, salads for me growing up were quite similar, except I didn’t like tomato or cucumber! So a pile of lettuce, totally drenched in fatty thousand island dressing it was. Maybe a few carrots and croutons in the mix. Totally boring, and thankfully I outgrew that stage of eating, although I do on occasion really miss that thousand island dressing haha

    • says

      Haha, Chris! My husband and I actually just went to our local ‘souvlaki’ shop this evening for a chicken pitta, and we ordered a side of sauce which was actually very similar to thousand island! I have to admit there’s something about that sauce, even now!

  6. says

    This is one beautiful salad for spring! All the lovely vibrant colors together looks amazing. Oh Helen, love the earthy sweet taste of roasted fennel and radishes.

    • says

      Thank you, girls! The taste of roasted fennel is amazing, isn’t it? I think it might just have become my new favourite vegetable!

  7. says

    I just used blood orange olive oil in some muffins! I LOVE the flavor, though will admit to not really buying them fresh here. To be honest, I love salad, but they are like, 20% lettuce and 80% toppings, which usually consist of some bean, some cheese, some nut and some protein.

    • says

      Blood orange olive oil? Wow, intriguing! Your salads sound delicious, Chrissy … I’m not so keen on lettuce, so definitely my kind of salad!

  8. says

    I think Happiness Salad is a great name for this! :) Blood oranges are one of my favorites; I just love the color they bring to any dish, and they are so delicious!

    I hardly had salads growing up. My family is definitely a “meat and potatoes” family. In the past few years, I’ve actually started craving salads, and I like mine with lots of different add-ins.

    • says

      Hello, Ashley, and thanks for your thoughtful comment! The only ‘problem’ I have with my salads these days are that I’m always tempted to put feta cheese in it! I have to try to force myself to think of something different!

    • says

      Thank you for your nice complimentary comment, Shashi! I’d never roasted radishes before either but it worked really well, I have to say. :-)

  9. says

    I love how colorful this salad is! It sounds wonderful! My mom used to make the same salad when we were kids – lettuce, cheese, croutons and tomatoes. haha and that’s it. It was like a giant revelation when I realized salads could be so much more!!

    • says

      Haha … it’s so funny how much things can change over a few years, isn’t it? Your mom’s salad definitely sounds slightly better than the ones we had in the UK … the cheese and croutons sound quite interesting, but I can imagine how it might have got old pretty fast if you had it EVERY time!!

    • says

      Yes, what a relief! I’m very glad it wasn’t just my family!
      P.S. Lorraine, I shared your gorgeous roast chicken recipe on Facebook and one of my friends made it in a slow cooker instead of the roasting bag. She said it was delicious! :-)

    • says

      Hey, Mariana … a compliment indeed!! Thank you. I’ve only just started to experiment a bit more with my salads, to be honest. But one thing’s for sure … it’s easy for me to miss out the lettuce … not my favourite veggie!

  10. says

    That’s always how I thought of salads too! But my grandmother had a beautiful garden in the Forest of Dean where she grew all her own vegetables, so it was pretty tasty none the less.
    This salad looks divine! I would have never thought of mixing all these together (especially because I have never tried fennel before. I keep promising myself:one day…)

    • says

      Wow! I think I would have loved your grandma’s salads, even if they were only lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber!! Do try fennel some day soon … honesty, it’s delicious. In fact, what a shame fennel isn’t a company. They would be having to pay me a lot of money right now for all the ‘fennel promotion’ I’m doing … haha!

  11. says

    I’ve added fresh fennel to my salad, but I love the idea of roasted even better. In fact, your whole salad looks divine!!

    • says

      Aw, thanks Liz! So lovely of you to say so! This was the first time I’d tried roasted fennel and it was amazing! I’ll definitely be putting it in a salad again. :-)

  12. says

    Ha, I had a very similar side salad the other day. It was a very sad affair indeed. These days, I love salads made with grains or roasted squash. Filling + hearty and a meal in themselves. This salad sounds wonderful – so bright and fresh!

    • says

      Hello Kathryn – thanks so much for passing by! I can’t believe you had a side salad like that recently! I thought they were way way in the past … obviously not! So glad you like the look of this salad. It’s definitely me taking my baby steps into the world of combining lovely things for ‘posh’ salads … but hopefully the first of many more!

  13. says

    Yes – let’s definitely call this a “Happiness Salad”! It makes me happy just looking at the alluring, springtime colors! And what fabulous layers of flavor! Roasting is just about the best thing that could happen to a vegetable, and I adore roasted veggies on a bed of crisp greens – such a wonderful juxtaposition! And then those oranges and the fab dressing … I pretty much can’t pin this one fast enough! Yum! 😀

    • says

      Aw, Shelley, you have cheered me up even more with your lovely comment! I do enjoy roasted veggies, whether on a salad or just as they are. Thanks so much for the pin, and have a great weekend! :-)

  14. says

    The tomato + lettuce + cucumber one was the only one I ate back when I was little. I thought it was just me oh wow haha!
    This one looks miles more sophisticated and delicious – what an incredible flavor combo!
    Happy Friday! xx

    • says

      Thanks, Consuelo! I’m glad it wasn’t just me! I would be feeling a bit silly right now if it was … but yes, thank goodness things have moved on! Have a wonderful weekend! :-)

  15. says

    I honestly can’t remember what kind of salads I ate as a kid. They must have been that good…hehe. I’m so into salads because I usually have them for lunch almost everyday. I get bored easily so I’m always looking for new ways to change it up. This looks splendid!

    • says

      Thanks, Tina! Hopefully the fact you can’t remember means they weren’t that bad!! I would like to have them for lunch every day. Just got to get around to making them on busy weeknights!

  16. says

    It’s most definitely not “just you,” my dear! That is what salads were here in the states too, back in the 80’s and 90’s! I’m so glad we are broadening our horizons! I love a beet salad with goat cheese or blue cheese, and also a shaved fennel salad with oranges and kalamatas is a sure favorite! In the summertime I’m a big fan of the watermelon + feta + mint combo. All so very tasty! This one you’ve made is just gorgeous! I love all the vibrant colors, and I’ve never tried a roasted radish before! Hope you’re having a great weekend, Helen!

    • says

      Wow, all of your fave salads sound delicious! Watermelon and feta is very popular over here in Greece, actually. Thanks for the nice comment (once again!), Allie, and I hope you have a great weekend, too! :-)

  17. says

    Your lettuce/cucumber/tomato salad is pretty much the only salad we ate growing up!! Thank goodness I’ve graduated from that into amazing salads like this one you made. It looks delicious!! Blood oranges are so pretty, and I bet the flavor is just amazing in here!

  18. says

    Beautiful and refreshing salad, Helen! Growing up, we had simple salads and I especially enjoyed classic coleslaw. Things really got exotic when Mom made 7 Layer Salad. 😉 I have one all-time favorite salad that we ladies enjoyed when we went shopping and out to lunch. It is one that I look forward to sharing on the blog. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    • says

      Hi Stacy and thanks for your ‘salad info’! I have to admit we had coleslaw too but it was always pre-packaged!Looking forward to that interesting-sounding salad on your blog! Enjoy the rest of your weekend, too. :-)


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