Quick Bites from Pender

Maple Blossom, Orange & Fennel Salad

In Island Life, Recipes on March 18, 2010 at 5:01 am

Maple Blossom Orange Fennel Salad

Two out of four of the ingredients in this salad were foraged at Mile Zero — on the deck just outside our front door.  But we don`t grow a lot of citrus in the Pacific Northwest, and while I have grown fennel (on our deck even!), I haven`t done it in March.

Which leaves the sorrel (sorry) and the maple blossoms.


I have to reach for them, but once the branch is in my hand, the maple blossoms pop off with a light squeeze.  There’s only a couple of more days before all of the flowers will be open and the season will be over!  If you live in the Pacific Northwest, find yourself a Big Leaf Maple and pop a blossom in your mouth.

Then take a few home for tonight’s salad.


Maple flowers are easy to like.  Not everyone likes some of the more challenging foraged foods:  nettles, mushrooms, sea asparagus, etc. — but these little buds really make your mouth blossom (sorry again).

As for the sorrel, I`ve been growing and harvesting the same plant in a small pot on the deck railing for about 3 or 4 years.  It springs back to life every February, and I get continuous small crops for soups and salads until late October.

Sorrel has a strong lemony taste that is best in small doses.  You don’t need to grow a lot to always have sorrel on hand.


Make sure you get a little bit of everything with each forkful of salad.  The sorrel’s lemony bite contrasts with the green sweetness of the maple flowers.  Arugula, with its slight peppery taste, would also match well.  Mix in some butter lettuce or spring mix for a milder flavour.

Use a light hand with the salad dressing. Salads should shine, not droop.

I served this to start dinner, and followed it with a small grilled steak and sauteed chard.  A light dinner that was enjoyed by all.

Maple Blossom, Fennel and Orange Salad
Serves 2

Sorrel 2 handfuls
Orange, in supremes 1 small
Fennel Bulb, shaved small wedge
Large Maple Blossoms 10-12
Maple Dressing (recipe below) 2 T

Toss all of the ingredients gently.  Divide amongst 2 plates and serve.

Notes:  I used a clementine instead of a plain old orange, and a strip of cucumber as the salad ring.

Maple Dressing
Yield:  1/3 Cup

Maple Syrup 1 T 15 ml
White Wine Vinegar 1 T 15 ml
Dry Mustard ¼ t 2 ml
Mustard Seeds ¼ t 2 ml
Cinnamon pinch
Olive Oil 2 T 30 ml
Vegetable Oil 1 T 15 ml
s+p TT

C=Cup       ml=milllilitres        T=Tablespoon     t=teaspoon
TT=to taste

Whisk together the syrup, vinegar, mustards and cinnamon.  Slowly pour in the oils, whisking continually.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.



  1. Wow! How beautiful, healthy and organic. Now that, is a work of art.

  2. What a nice salad – I never heard about using maple blossoms. I need to go out and find some 🙂

    • If you have access to a Big Leaf Maple, then take the chance to try these…so good! I made a pesto out of them last night…so light and fresh tasting!

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