Alexanders and Orange Salad with Walnuts
The stems of the Alexanders plant have a tough, fibrous exterior which can be peeled away to reveal a crisp, juicy core with a pleasantly subtle anise flavour akin to fennel. This recipe, based on a classic Sicilian combination of fennel, blood oranges and walnuts, makes a refreshing salad for late spring. Choose thicker stems from lower down the plant – they don’t have a stronger flavour than the thinner ones but there is more left to eat once you’ve peeled away the fibrous skin. If there are any yellow flowers and tiny new leaves on the plant, pick some and sprinkle them over for added flavour. If you’ve made some of our Alexanders Salt, use some of that too.
- 250g thick stems of Alexanders
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt (use Alexanders Salt if you have some)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small oranges
- 30g shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 small, freshly opened Alexanders flowers, for garnish (if available)
- A palmful of small, bright green Alexanders leaves from just below the flowers (if available)
- Cut the Alexanders stems into lengths between the leaf joints. Discard the joints. Using a vegetable peeler, pare away the fibrous outer skin of the stems until you reach the pale, crisp interior. Cut the stalks in half along their length, then slice into thin half-moons.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil with a little seasoning and add the sliced Alexanders stems. Toss them well to coat in the dressing, then set aside while you prepare the oranges.
- Cut a slice off the top and bottom of one of the oranges. Sitting it on one cut face, use a sharp knife to cut vertical strips of the peel and pith away from the flesh, following the shape of the orange. Work around the orange until the peel is completely removed. Then turn the peeled orange on its side and cut into fine, starburst-patterned slices. Tip any juice that escapes into the bowl of Alexanders stems. Repeat with the second orange.
- Arrange the orange slices on two plates. Scatter half the Alexanders stems over each plate, reserving any dressing left in the bowl. Pick the Alexanders flowers (if using) into tiny florets and scatter them over the salads, along with any small leaves and the walnuts. Drizzle with the reserved dressing and serve.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK