Salsa with Orange, Chili, Fennel, and Kalamata Olives

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Before you say, “WHAT THE HELL?!!” I have some cool news — Matthew and I got invited to judge the 2nd Annual Salsa Showdown at Pepper Place this weekend! So stop by from 3-7 (tickets are cheaper online now) and watch us stuff our faces with salsa, cheese dip, and guacamole from El Barrio, Cocina Superior, El Donkey, and more! It’s a benefit for the Sidewalk Film Festival, so stroll by and get your snack on!

In honor of the Showdown, I decided to make a non-traditional salsa for you today. In all honesty, this probably isn’t technically a salsa, But “relish” sounds so boring and, well, pickly. So I’m making the call — it’s salsa, dammit!

Salsa with Orange, Chili, Fennel, and Kalamata Olives
SPOILER ALERT: This stuff is good! Sweet, salty, grilly, a little hot, and maybe just an itty bit sweet. It’s a great foil for grilled pork. And I’d bet my biscuits it would be deeeelicious over salmon!

• One and a half navel oranges
• 1 small red chili
• 1/3 cup of sliced kalamata olives
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1 tsp olive juice
• 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
• 2 tbsp chopped parsley
• ½ cup fennel, grilled and chopped

Use a knife to cut away the peel and pith from one whole orange, rough chop it, and place it in a bowl. Half your other orange and repeat. Save your other half for squeezing over whatever meat you’re grilling.

Next, find a patch of sunshine, and add your diced chili. Actually, the sunshine step is optional, but wouldn’t you agree that it’s such a glorious ingredient? Now you may be asking, “What kind of chili is that?” The truth is that I have NO idea. Publix didn’t label the basket. All I know is that it was red and not too hot.

Now, tackle the olives. I’m all about using superior ingredients, but these jarred, pitted kalamatas by Lindsay are cheap, tasty, and easy. Why do I feel like using a “Your Mom” joke here?

Sunshine…on my salsa…makes me happy…

Finish with parsley and grilled fennel. If you’re a particularly attentive foodie, you’ll detect nary a piece of fennel in this shot. That is because it was prettier before I added the fennel. What can I say…pretty matters people!

However, that does not mean you should skip this step!** The grilled fennel added a smokiness (well, duh!) and a complex flavor that added depth to sweetness of the orange, without headbutting the brininess of the olives.

The result: A very flavorful and interesting salsa that took a staple like grilled pork and made it really fun to eat. Hooray!

I totally recommend this funky recipe and give it like, 87 stars. But if non-traditional salsa is not your thing, swing by Pepper Place next Saturday and let the professionals please your palate. Just be sure to say “Hey” and perhaps call an ambulance if Matthew and I appear to be suffering from guacamole overload!

See you soon! ;)

**Upon further review, I found this picture a bit misleading. That grilled item to left is not fennel, it’s actually a tiny grilled onion. I grilled my fennel by slicing it into 1/2 inch slabs and coating with olive oil, white balsamic, and salt and pepper. I grilled on low for about 20 minutes, flipping midway. Cool, then chop.

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