Six O’Clock Solution: Fennel and orange salad uses an often-ignored vegetable

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Fennel needs an introduction to most cooks. Its big, white bulb with green stalks is ignored on vegetable counters, which is too bad, as it adds interesting flavour to recipes, either raw or cooked.

When raw, its licorice flavour is most evident. Cooked, it turns sweet. The new vegetarian cookbook More Daily Veg by London author Joe Woodhouse (Hachette/Canadian Manda Group, $29.99) reveals he really likes fennel.

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Among his 80 recipes is this beautiful salad, and he also offers three cooked fennel dishes, pairing it with onion, garlic and tomatoes. Of Mediterranean background, it’s a member of the carrot family and is used to make absinthe. You can grill it, sliced one-quarter inch thick and first given a quick boil until half-cooked, or sliced thinly and sautéd. Although a British book (measurements are in grams and ounces), the recipes are easy to follow. British cook Nigella Lawson gives the book a plug. Photos, also by Woodhouse, are good.

Fennel and orange salad

Serves 4

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

3 sweet oranges

3 fennel bulbs (about 1 pound/500 g)

10 Kalamata black olives (100 g)

1 red onion, sliced (optional)

Combine lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt in a mixing bowl.

Cut orange in sections, trimming away all the white connective tissue. Without squeezing the orange, add any juice that flows from the orange to the dressing in the bowl.

Slice fennel finely, using a mandolin or a knife, and add to the mixing bowl.

Break olives in half, discard pits, and add olives to salad.

Serve salad with the dressing.

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