Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad

Sicilian Fennel and Orange SaladThis recipe for Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad is a delight. Its fresh flavors and textures come from juicy oranges, crunchy and slightly sweet fennel pieces, and salty olives. It’s a wonderful flavor combo, and makes a great salad to enjoy during the spring season.

If you aren’t familiar with fennel, it tastes a bit like licorice. If you’re not a fan of licorice, don’t pass on fennel. I’m not a licorice lover, but I really enjoy fennel. It grows as a white bulb that has several sections in its center, and feathery, pale green fronds on top. Biting into a piece of fennel is similar to crunching on a piece of celery.

A flavorful dish, Sicilian Fennel and Orange SaladWhen I went to Italy last fall, I saw amazing sites, visited with family I hadn’t seen in years (and some I had never met), and ate splendid meals. How could it get any better?

While I was in Rome, I had the pleasure of making a few new friends who happen to operate an impressive tour company called, Overome. Overome provides small, personalized (and even private) tours of Roman sites, as well as one just beyond Rome, in Ostia.

One of my new friends, Nicoletta, and I have kept in touch since initially meeting, and one of our topics of conversation is always food – go figure! Nicoletta has sent me several ideas for recipes, and I have her to thank for Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad.

Nicoletta said her aunt used to make this salad, which she called a Palermitan salad (from the Sicilian city Palermo). For my version, I included salad greens and an orange juice-based dressing to toss with it (as I understand it, greens are optional and the salad is typically dressed with just extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes anchovies).

Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad on a prickly pear padAccording to Nicoletta’s aunt, Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad was a meal typically eaten by farmers while out in the countryside. Since there were no dishes in the fields, they ate the salad served from prickly pear pads (nopales in Spanish) after being cleared of thorns with a knife.

I loved the story behind this dish, and can imagine the farmers enjoying it on a warm day. The combination of flavors is so simple, yet it makes such a delightful salad. I was lucky to bring back some of my aunt’s home grown and pressed olive oil from Italy, and I used it in this recipe. I usually save it for special meals, and this Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad certainly qualifies.

Recipe for Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad
Serves 2


  • 1 fennel bulb, bottom and tops removed, and cut into thin pieces
  • 2 oranges, sliced into thin rounds, peels cut away
  • 4 ounces arugula and spinach greens
  • 1/4 cup black Italian olives, pitted and rough chopped
  • 3 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice (more or less based on the sweetness of your orange)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. To make the dressing, combine the orange juice, olive oil, salt, and ground black pepper and mix to combine. Taste and adjust as needed.
  2. Add the fennel, oranges, greens, and olives to a bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing over the mixture and gently toss to combine.
  4. Divide and serve on individual plates.
Recipe for Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad

Serves 2



  1. says

    This is positively gorgeous – and I love the combo of fennel and citrus. It’s quintessentially summery — and as you said, very Sicilian. :) So glad I found you through the Enjoying Yummy Recipes group! Hugs – Em

  2. Shon Pirollo says

    Wow Patty, what a delicious treat this was! I love your recipes and the family stories behind them. You never disappoint and this is surely at the top of my list. Thanks!

  3. says

    We’ve used fennel quite a few times over the last year and I love the flavor profile of this salad, especially with the contrasting but complimentary slices of orange; beautiful and delicious looking!

  4. says

    This looks so delicious! I will be studying abroad in Italy for a 6 weeks and I am so excited to learn about the food and culture over there! Hopefully I can meet some friends too!

    • Patricia says

      Oh wow, Leanna – that’s amazing! I’m sure you’ll easily make friends — Italians are super friendly! Enjoy your adventure!

  5. says

    YUM! This sounds delicious. So perfect for a spring meal in the backyard. I am pinning it for later, thanks for sharing! BTW completely jealous of your trip to Italy – I would love to get there one day!

    • Patricia says

      Thank you, Donna! I think another trip needs to take place — It seems like so long ago already :) What a wonderful place – hope you make it there someday!

  6. says

    What a stunningly beautiful salad, Patricia! I totally agree, your aunt’s olive oil is definitely okay to use on this salad! Wow! Simple Italian dishes are always the best (imho)! 😉

    I wonder if we were in Italy at the same time last year! When did you go?

    • Patricia says

      Isn’t that the truth?? It’s so funny that I’m so stingy with that special olive oil :)
      I was actually there in ’13 – in Oct. You?

  7. says

    I love salads, and I love it when more creative cooks than I am come up with creative salad ideas! Thanks for broadening my salad horizon :) Looks delicious!

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