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Italian Seafood Salad with Mandarin Oranges & Fennel

Italian Seafood Salad with Mandarin Oranges & Fennel

Italian Seafood Salad with Mandarin Oranges & Fennel is an enchanting and delicious way to end the warm summer season. 

I feel the evening breeze cooling, and the chilly morning temperatures have me dreaming of fall. But I’m not ready to give up on summer just yet. It’s still warm during the day here in the Willamette Valley and a chilled seafood salad still feels like a necessary indulgence.

I’m not kidding when I say that this Italian Seafood Salad with Mandarin Oranges & Fennel is completely indulgent.

Although I feel that it’s easy to prepare, it does require a bit of time. Trust me however, if you’re a seafood lover this salad is worth the time!

I typically make this salad on Christmas Eve as part of our Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner. But it’s such a beautiful and flavorful salad, it lends itself well to a summer feast when seafood here in the Pacific Northwest is at its freshest.

The salad recipe does include baby octopus and calamari, but if you can’t find those ingredients or you don’t  like them, the salad is just as delicious without them. Although, Ranger Craig would disagree. He loves the octopus. 😉 Sometimes I grill the octopus instead of poach it with the other ingredients. That makes for a really flavorful salad. I also think cucumber is a nice addition to this salad during the summer months.

If you’re looking for a recipe to “wow” your family and friends at your last barbecue or gathering for the season, this is the recipe to share. It’s lovely as a main dish but it can absolutely serve as a side dish to grilled meats, poultry, veggies and fish.

Let me know if you make the recipe. I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you made the recipe your own. Because after all, recipes are just guidelines. Right? That’s what I always told my culinary students. My advice is to make a recipe according to directions the first time. Then, if you decide you’d like to make changes according to your family’s preferred tastes, go ahead and play!

Wishing you all a lovely and delicious end of summer season!

Loads of love,


Italian Seafood Salad with Mandarin Oranges & Fennel
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Serving Size: 6

Italian Seafood Salad with Mandarin Oranges & Fennel

This is one of the most exquisite and delicious seafood salads I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Although the recipe looks long, it comes together easily and makes a lovely presentation on the dinner table.


    For the octopus marinade:
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
    For the poaching liquid:
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • Handful of fresh herbs (Italian parsley, oregano, thyme)
  • Additional water for liquid if needed
    For the salad:
  • ½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, keeping the tails if you like
  • ½ pound bay or diver scallops
  • ½ pound firm white fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound mussels, cleaned
  • ½ to 1 pound baby octopus or small octopus (optional)*
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb, reserve fronds for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped fennel fronds or fresh dill
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ½ cup sliced green olives (optional)
  • 1 cup mandarin orange slices (canned or fresh)
  • Sea salt, fennel fronds, and chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
    For the vinaigrette:
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 lemons, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. 1. One day prior to serving, marinate the octopus. Whisk together the marinade ingredients, toss the marinade with the octopus, and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. 2. Prepare the poaching liquid by adding the bottle white wine to a large pot. Heat over medium heat and then add the whole cloves, cloves of garlic, sliced shallot, and a handful of fresh herbs. Once the liquid has come to a very gentle simmer, add the shrimp and scallops. Let them poach for a few minutes or until they are opaque and cooked through. (Add boiling water to the poaching liquid one cup at a time if needed.)
  3. 3. With a slotted spoon or small mesh strainer, remove the shrimp and scallops and transfer to a large nonreactive bowl.
  4. 4. Next add the white fish to the poaching liquid and let it cook for a few minutes. Gently transfer to the bowl with the shrimp and scallops. Repeat the process with the mussels.
  5. 5. The last to be poached is the octopus. Add additional water to the pot if needed. Bring the liquid to a slow simmer and then add the octopus along with the marinade to the pot of poaching liquid. Bring the liquid back to a slow simmer and let the octopus poach for about 45 minutes.
  6. 6. While the octopus is poaching, whisk together the vinaigrette and then gently toss with the cooked seafood and refrigerate.
  7. 7. When the octopus is done, toss it with the seafood in the vinaigrette and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until you are ready to prepare and serve the salad.
  8. 8. To assemble the salad, gently toss the seafood and vinaigrette with the fennel, green onions, olives (if using), and mandarin oranges. Pour the salad onto a platter and garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt, fennel fronds or fresh dill and chopped Italian parsley.


Tip: You can hold the dressed seafood in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours prior to serving. Then toss with the additional ingredients and serve. The vinaigrette can be doubled if needed.

Many markets stock baby octopus, but if you can’t find it or don’t want to use it, you can substitute with calamari rings or squid. Most fish markets will special order octopus and squid. If you use whole squid or calamari rings, prepare it just as you would prepare the octopus. You can also omit the octopus and squid if you prefer. The salad will still be delicious.

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