The second course, of our extravagant Italian meal, was a salad course, featuring another dish from the Almalfi coast. Jamie says that the key to this salad is to slice everything very thin, the thinner the better. Unfortunately, my knife skills are a little lackluster and I don’t own a mandolin, but we persevered anyway. This salad was a nice fresh light contrast to some of the heavier dishes with a lovely combination of flavors and textures. The vegetables are very crunchy with a strong bite, the orange has a pleasant softness and sweetness, and the vinaigrette complements them both.

insalata amalfitana (from Jamie’s Italy)

1 bulb of fennel, washed
1 red onion, peeled
1 cucumber
a large handful of radishes, with tops, washed
2 tablespoons good-quality herb or red wine vinegar
good-quality extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oranges, peeled, segmented, and seeds removed

1. Remove herby tops of fennel and reserve. Trim fennel on both ends and remove outer layer if tough. Split the fennel in half and slice lengthwise as thin as possible.
2. Slice the cucumber finely.
3. Leave about 1/2 inch of stem on the radishes and slice a little off the tip. Roll the radish onto this flat edge and slice finely.
4. Put all the vegetable in a serving bowl and add a couple of ice cubes. The ice cubes will make the vegetables even crunchier. Remove them after a couple of minutes (it helps to know how many you put in)
5. Make the dressing: mix together wine vinegar with 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well and then taste. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Dress the salad and add orange segments and any juice. Toss a few times and plate. Sprinkle with the saved fennel tops. Serve.

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