Orange Circles with Minced Fennel, Pickled Onions, and Diced Fresh Cheese
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar, honey, or agave nectar
Â¾ teaspoon salt
1 small fennel bulb (about Â¾ pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from a small lemon
3 or 4 oranges
About 6 ounces feta or ricotta salata, in tiny dice
Black pepper to taste
Put on a kettle of water to boil. Place the sliced onion in a colander in the sink. While waiting for the water to boil, combine the vinegar with the sweetener and Â½ teaspoon of the salt in a bowl large enough to fit the onion. Whisk to blend. Pour the boiling water over the onion in the colander, shake to mostly drain, then add the onion to the vinegar mixture and stir to coat. Let it sit, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the recipe. (It can also be refrigerated for several days; see note above.) Trim and discard the bottom 1/8 inch or so of the fennel bulb, then finely mince the rest, including the fronds. Transfer to a bowl, toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, and remaining Â¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
With a serrated knife and a slicing motion, remove the peel from oranges, then slice the peeled oranges into thin rounds. Transfer the slices (plus as much of their juices as reasonable) to a platter and arrange in a single layer. (Pick out the seeds if/as necessary.) Divide the fennel mixture among the orange slices, spooning a little pile on each slice. Scatter on some onions (you probably will not need to use them all), decorate with the diced cheese, and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve cold or cool.