Apple, Fennel, and Salami Salad is an easy working lunch that really hits the spot with a sweetly satisfying dose of crunch. This unusual fall salad came together in a flash and brightened up my day.
Apple and fennel make a fabulous salad, but add salami for the win!
Some of the best food I’ve had in my life has been sitting at somebody else’s kitchen table when they’ve whipped up a last minute lunch or snack from stuff they happened to have lying around. I love to watch other people cook when they’re in their element like this, confident and creative, working off that inborn sense (we all have it!) of what just tastes good.
And dang if these little no-name recipes aren’t always the most memorable.
My daughter made this salad for me the other day after one of our morning video shoots ~ she had a small head of fennel from her CSA box, a perfect apple from our first apple picking shesh of the season, and, always, bacon in the fridge. She cut mini matchsticks while I tended the bacon on the stove. She tossed it all with a little cider vinegar, salt and pepper. And of course she topped it with the fennel fronds because…they were there.
How has it never occurred to me that salad dressing doesn’t necessarily have to include oil??
The lunch was heavenly ~ crunchy, sweet, earthy, so darn simple ~ and I couldn’t wait to make it again at home, subbing salami for the bacon because that’s what I had.
Apple + fennel is a classic fall combo
I like to slice the fennel super thin and the apples in tiny match sticks so they coordinate with each other, shape-wise. The earthy crunch of the fennel plays with the juicy crisp apples so well, which is why they’re such a famous seasonal pairing.
This salad benefits from a touch of umami
I happened to have fennel salami in my fridge, and it worked perfectly, but any salami, or Italian meat would be nice. I cut it in thin ribbons to echo the matchsticks of the apple and fennel. The meat really helps ground this salad and makes it so satisfying.
Non meat eaters of course leave it out, but I do think you’ll want that third element. How about toasted walnuts or crumbled feta?
See variation suggestions in the recipe card below.
Do you know how to cut a bulb of fennel?
If you’re not used to fennel, you probably pass it by in the supermarket, but once you give it a try the flavor can become quite addicting. Here’s how to break it down…
- Slice the stalks off at the base. Save the fronds, they’re delicious!
- Trim off the root end.
- Remove any tough outer leaves.
- Slice the bulb in half lengthwise.
- Slice it into thin half moons.
- Note: if your bulb is large you will want to remove the inner white core before slicing.
How to keep apples from browning
Apples turn brown shortly after they’ve been cut because certain enzymes in the fruit react with oxygen and darken.
To prevent this, toss the apples with a little lemon juice immediately after slicing ~ the acid in the lemon juice inactivates the browning enzymes and the apple will stay crisp and white.
The cider vinegar (also acidic) in this salad has a similar effect on the apples, but lemon juice is the most effective.
Takeaway: if you plan on making the salad ahead, or having leftovers, go for the lemon juice. Day #2 will be just as fab.
Fall salads for lunch, brunch, or holiday tables
- Brussels Sprout Slaw with Maple Cider Vinaigrette ~ whoever invented shaved sprouts was a genius.
- Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta ~ this wonderful salad is one of my personal favorites, I wish I could eat it every week.
- Harvest Wild Rice Salad~ if over the top is your style, this is your recipe.
- Roasted Apple and Radicchio Salad~ polar opposites make beautiful music together in this salad.
Apple, Fennel, and Salami Salad
- 1 small bulb of fennel
- 1 medium apple
- lemon juice (optional)
- cider vinegar
- 10 thin slices salami
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Trim the stalks off the bulb of fennel and reserve the fronds. Remove the tough outer leaves from the bulb, and trim off the root end. Slice in half lengthwise and then slice as thin as you can. If your bulb is large you may want to trim away the tough inner core before slicing. Put the fennel in a salad bowl.
- Cut the apple into very fine matchsticks. There's no need to peel. I like to toss the apple with a little bit of lemon juice just to insure it doesn't brown. Add the apples to the salad bowl. Toss the apples and fennel with a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar.
- Slice the salami into thin strips and add to the salad. Snip some of the fennel fronds into the bowl. Toss and season to taste with salt and pepper.
notes and variations
- If you don't like fennel you might try celery, cut thinly on the bias.
- For a vegan version add toasted walnuts in place of the salami.
- Add crumbled cheese like feta, goat, or blue.
- Try a creamy mayo/cider vinegar dressing.
- Add fennel seeds, celery seeds, or even poppy seeds.