There are just a few ingredients that singly sing as strongly to winter’s bounty as blood oranges and fennel. When I was a little girl growing up on the East Coast, when the freezing rain would not turn into snow and the cloudy light would not give into sun, I would dream of fleeing this darkness to a land where at least humans could cull food from the earth no matter the time of year. In my early 20’s I was lucky enough to save enough money to make my California escape. Now, winter means citrus, herbs and greens leaping towards low light, stalks of fennel beginning their slow, months long climb towards the sun.
Each day is a blessing no matter where you live, and now even in the smallest East Coast cities one can find fennel bulbs and at least Navel, if not Blood Oranges. For this recipe, if you cannot find Moro or another variety of Blood Orange, you can easily and tastefully substitute with Navel or Cara Cara Oranges, or even try a Ruby Red grapefruit.
This sauce that is very much like a fresh salsa pairs well with any fish or seafood, from crab to shrimp to salmon to halibut. The key is to prepare it just before or as you cook these proteins—avocado, even with the addition of citrus, will most likely not retain its vibrant color beyond a day. This sauce can easily also serve as a health-forward, delicious dip for chips, crackers, or mixed sliced vegetables. If you would like to see the YouTube video that walks you through how to make this sauce, please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/nN4NFMpVQpk
1 fennel bulb, remove the core and tough outer layer, medium dice it (should yield about 2/3rds cup cooked)
1 tablespoon of olive oil to cook the fennel in and another teaspoon to finish
3/4 cup avocado, medium diced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped blood orange zest
1/3 cup blood orange segments, cut in quarters
1 1/2 teaspoons blood orange juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped chive or cilantro
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
- If you decide to roast the fennel, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean and dice the fennel bulb. You can either roast or sauté the fennel. To roast the fennel, place it on a sheet tray with a generous sprinkle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and cook for 20 minutes, or until soft and very slightly caramelized. If sautéing, heat up the a fry pan to medium, add the oil, and then add in the fennel. Stir the fennel frequently to ensure even cooking, and remove it from the heat once it is cooked through and slightly caramelized.
- While the fennel is cooking, prepare the blood orange zest, segments, and juice.
- Once the fennel is cooked, pull it out of the oven and allow it to cool.
- Right before you intend to serve the sauce, dice the avocado and place it with the blood orange materials and cooled fennel. Add in the chive or cilantro, the teaspoon of olive oil to finish, and serve.
- Pair this sauce with fish or seafood such as shrimp, clams, salmon, and a whitefish like halibut, or with roasted duck or pork.