Fennel and citrus salad with fennel vinaigrette is a light, bright, spring salad that makes a nice change from the same old bowl of greens. If you’re bored with salad, try this 3-ingredient wonder, it’ll get your attention 🙂
why make a fennel and citrus salad?
This salad came about after I spotted beautiful spring fennel bulbs in the produce aisle the other day. The bulbs were small and bright white, with lots of fresh fronds. When fennel is this fresh, you only need to trim it and slice it paper thin to enjoy its fresh flavor and snappy crunch. A salad is the perfect vehicle for this star of spring.
Radicchio and citrus are the supporting actors. Radicchio is slightly bitter, and when you pair it with fennel the combination is nice and complex. Citrus fruit brightens the salad, adds sweetness, juiciness, and a lovely contrasting texture.
can you eat fennel raw?
Yes, it’s fabulous raw. The key is to slice it just thinly enough so it’s easy to bite yet keeps its wonderful crunch.
It’s low in calories (73 for an entire bulb) and high in vitamins (C) and minerals (potassium.)
While it’s true that cooking fennel brings out the sweetness, there is a lot to be said for the delicate flavor of raw. It’s not a strong licorice flavor, so don’t be afraid to try it.
what you’ll need
- fennel ~ small young heads (about the size of a fist) with lots of fresh green fronds are best for shaving and eating raw in salad. I slice them paper thin on a mandoline.
- radicchio ~ a small head, halved and thinly sliced.
- citrus of your choice, I used oranges and pink grapefruit (if you’ve got an eagle eye you’ll spot some blood orange as well) You can segment them, or slice them.
- olive oil
- champagne vinegar (or other mild white vinegar)
- lemon juice
- honey dijon mustard (or use regular dijon and a dab of honey)
- fennel fronds ~ why did we ever throw them out? They have a lovely delicate flavor, not as overpowering as dill.
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
why is my fennel turning brown?
Not all fennel turns brown when cut, but sometimes it will, and that’s just the same oxidation process you see in apples. If your fennel starts to brown after you shave it, plunge it in some cold water mixed with a little lemon juice, and it will keep it snowy white.
you’ll use the fennel dressing recipe over and over again
I say this all the time, but a dressing can be just as exciting as a salad. For this one I just pile everything into a jar and blend with my immersion blender. The dressing emulsifies into a creamy dreamy green vinaigrette thanks to the presence of lemon juice and mustard. I make extra because it’s so fresh tasting and such a pretty color. The fennel fronds have an even more subtle flavor than the bulbs, so you don’t have to worry about an overpowering anise taste.
variation ideas for a fennel salad
- substitute baby arugula, or baby spinach for the radicchio
- top the salad with crumbled feta, a soft goat cheese, or shavings of Parmesan
- for a touch of decadence, add a ball of burrata cheese
- use beets instead of or in addition to citrus fruit
- crumble toasted crushed nuts like walnuts, pine nuts, or pistachios over the salad
- thinly sliced red onions would be nice
- add black or green olives
- top with fresh mint leaves
- add grilled shrimp, fresh crab, leftover salmon, or tuna to make it a light meal
More juicy citrus salads
- Grapefruit and Watercress Salad
- Sicilian Citrus Salad
- Spicy Citrus Salad with Black Olives
- Pickled Blackberries and Grapefruit Salad
- Blood Orange and Jicama Salad
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pomelo Salad
- Grapefruit and Roasted Beet Salad
- Orange and Lemon Salad
Fennel, Radicchio, and Citrus Salad
- 2 small young fennel bulbs
- 1 small head radicchio (use 1/2 if your head is larger)
- 1 orange
- 1 pink grapefruit
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
fennel vinaigrette (you'll have extra dressing to use on other salads)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (or other mild white vinegar)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey Dijon mustard Note: if using regular Dijon mustard, add a dab of honey as well)
- a fistful of fennel fronds
- salt to taste
- Trim the stalks from the fennel and peel off any rough outer leaves. Slice 1/8 inch on a mandoline slicer, or with a very sharp knife. Reserve the leafy fronds. If your fennel is young you don't need to remove the core, but if your bulb is larger, remove the core before slicing.
- If your fennel starts to brown, put it in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice.
- If your radicchio is whole, then halve it, remove the core, and thinly slice or shred it.
- Remove the peel and either segment or slice the orange and grapefruit into thin slices
- Arrange the radicchio, fennel, and citrus on a plate or platter.
- Put the dressing ingredients in a jar big enough to fit your immersion blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste to adjust the seasonings, or the acidity through the lemon juice and vinegar. If you like you can blend in more fennel fronds.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and top with freshly cracked black pepper, and some fennel fronds.
notes and variations
- If you'd like to make the salad ahead of time, leave off the dressing until you're ready to serve.