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Blood Orange, Goat’s Cheese & Fennel Salad With Spiced Pecans

Photo: Stephanie Marriott

We’re approaching the latter part of the blood orange season, and if you haven’t tried them before, I’d highly recommend heading out to your local fruit and veg shop to pick up some of these ruby gems. The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops at low temperatures during the night and the dark-fleshed Moro and Sanguinello varieties are available in Ireland until late April/early May.

The salad below is full of fresh flavours and if blood oranges are unavailable, simply substitute them for regular oranges or mix them with some pink grapefruit. The spicy pecans can be added to all sorts of other salads so consider making a few more than required.


Serves 4 (as a starter)


3 blood oranges, or if not in season a mix of orange and pink grapefruit

1 large fennel bulb

60g rocket

100g soft goat’s cheese, broken into chunks

10g mint leaves, torn



1 tbsp white wine vinegar

½ tbsp orange juice

Salt and pepper

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp honey

Leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary


Spiced Pecans:

35g sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1//4 tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground star anise

60g pecans


For the dressing

Whisk all the ingredients together. Adjust the seasoning and bitter/sweet levels to your taste. Ensure to chop the rosemary very fine if adding it to the dressing.  Alternatively you can use a whole sprig of rosemary and heat up the honey and rosemary together to infuse the honey with the flavour.


For the pecans

Put all of the ingredients for the nuts in a bowl and mix well together. Place on a baking tray and cook at 160°C, 140°C Fan, Gas 3 for 10 minutes. Take the nuts out of the oven and pour the pecans on to a non-stick baking sheet or silicone mat and leave to cool. You can chop these or leave them whole.


For the salad

Cut a slice off the bottom and top of each orange. Place each orange flat-sided on a board, and with a sharp knife, cut off the peel and pith. Segment the fruit and allow them to stand in their own juice until required. Trim the fennel. Slice it on a mandolin or slice very finely with a knife.


To serve

Throw the fennel slices, blood oranges, rocket and mint into a salad bowl with the dressing and toss gently. Add the goat’s cheese or goat’s cheese and the pecans and serve.


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