chicken, fennel and orange salad

a lighter take on things, compared to the weekend’s cheesy pasta bake, was this chicken and fennel salad from jerusalem, the new cook book from yotam ottolenghi and sami tamimi, which i have already sung the praises of and which i am continuing to cook my way through.

this saffron, chicken and herb salad has a lot of light fresh flavours but the star component is, i think, the orange and saffron dressing, which is made from a boiled orange, honey, saffron and white wine vinegar which is blitzed together and used to make a paste which is then loosened with a bit of water and used to dress the salad. a simple salad of cooked chicken, thinly sliced raw fennel plus flavourings of mint, coriander, basil, chilli, garlic olive oil and lemon juice.

one orange gives you more than enough dressing for a salad for six so make sure you have a plan for using the leftovers. they suggest using it with oily fish. i think it would be great in a salad with duck or to add zing to a carrot soup. i also saw an idea that used it as  addressing for deep-fried artichokes and i think it would be lovely with stuffed courgette flowers (especially if they are stuffed with a tangy goats cheese).

jerusalem orange, saffron & honey dressing

1 orange

50g honey

½ a teaspoon saffron threads

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

c300ml water

trim and discard about 1cm off the top and bottom of the orange and cut it into 12 wedges, discarding any pips that you notice. place the wedges in a small saucepan with the honey, saffron, vinegar and just enough water to cover the oranges. bring to the boil and simmer gently for about an hour. after this time you should be left with very soft oranges and about 5 tablespoons of syrup; add more water if it looks like it is drying out (i actually ended up with more liquid than this but stopped simmering it as my oranges were ready). using a food processor blitz the oranges and syrup to a smooth runny paste. add a little water if needed.

this can be kept in the fridge for a few days.