Blood orange and puntarelle salad

Serves 6

Blood oranges came very late this year; normally their first appearance is in late December and they are not at their best until the middle of their three-month season. This year we first saw them in early February – perhaps it was due to the dismal weather all of Europe has suffered from this year. As a result, they are still around now but not for very much longer. Beautiful ruby-red jewels, their taste is sharp with a hint of raspberries – and somehow they are lovely as part of a simple salad.

Puntarelle is part of a family of lettuces known as cicoria – if this is difficult to find, fennel makes a lovely alternative.

7 blood oranges
2 tbsp mild-tasting olive oil, such as Sicilian or Ligurian
1 bulb of cicoria or fennel
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice one of the blood oranges in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl, then add a little salt, pepper and the two tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk together well, then set aside.

If using puntarelle, pull off its outer leaves until all you are left with is the pale white bulb. Slice very finely and place in the bowl along with the olive oil and juice mix. If using fennel, remove its fibrous outer layer and slice into fine ribbons.

Using a small, sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from the remaining oranges and slice into pinwheels. Add to the bowl and toss lightly together; arrange attractively on a serving plate. Perfect alongside delicate white fish.

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