The first time I used fennel in a recipe was for my friend’s “Friendsgiving” last year – a potluck Thanksgiving dinner with friends. I was in charge of bringing a salad, and somehow became fixated on the idea of bringing something featuring fennel. Fennel is wonderful during any time of the year, but for some reason I associate it specifically with autumn – it’s fresh and crisp, but has that unexpected anise flavor that reminds me of cooler weather. I’ve played with a few fennel salad combinations since then, and particularly love this version with orange, avocado and pistachios. It has so many interesting flavors that come together beautifully – the crisp, anise-flavored fennel, the sweet and slightly tart orange, the creamy avocado, and the salty and crunchy pistachios. It’s all tied together with a sweet and zesty dressing that can be made in about one minute.
I personally could eat huge chunks of fennel by itself, but I realize I might like the licorice flavor more than others. Since it is quite a strong flavor, I decided to use shaved fennel in this salad. At the risk of embarrassing myself, I had to look up how to shave fennel online (how did people live before the internet?). I had always been daunted by the task, likely because I had no idea what it involved. I envisioned it to be complicated, but it actually couldn’t be easier – you simply shave the fennel with a vegetable peeler. I used a Y-shaped peeler and dragged it slowly down the length of the fennel, which worked perfectly. Shaved fennel still has the wonderful flavor, but it’s a much lighter version that won’t overpower the rest of the salad.
I love how this salad is so healthy yet still fun and interesting. With all my recipes, I try to maintain that balance – healthy meals should certainly not skimp on flavor, variety and creativity. I hope that you enjoy this as much as I do!
- For the salad:
- ½ fennel bulb, stems cut off
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced
- ¼ cup pistachios
- Mixed greens (enough for 2 people)
- For the dressing:
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Zest of half an orange
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Slowly drag a vegetable peeler down the length of the fennel to create long, shaved slices. Peel about 8-10 slices for each salad.
- Combine the fennel with the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Whisk the honey, vinegar and orange zest together. Slowly add the olive oil as you whisk, and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing to the salad and toss well; serve immediately.
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen says
Fennel is perfect for a fall salad – it’s crunchy and cool and has a very distinct taste. I don’t use it very often but this recipe is inspiring. Love the addition of pistachios – I love nuts in all my salads :). Pinning to try soon. Thanks, Julia.
I love adding nuts to all my salads too, Geraldine – it’s such an easy and delicious way to add some protein! I hope you enjoy the recipe. I agree that fennel has a very distinct taste, which is why I love it so much!
Katie @ Whole Nourishment says
What a gorgeous salad. I love fennel in salads, especially shaved like you’ve done and the pistachios and orange are perfect compliments. This is a great dinner party salad because it “feels” really nice without taking much effort!
Katie, I was thinking this could be nice for a dinner party too! It’s so easy, but it’s a little bit special because of the fennel. I don’t see fennel used that often – I guess its odd-looking stalks make it look a little daunting!
Julia what a colorfull salad!! I love fennels! Remind me of my youth. My mother used them a lot. And the combination with orange , avocado and pistachios… Awesome!
I love pop of color from the orange, too! I want to hear about how your mom cooked with fennel – I’m always looking for new recipe inspiration 🙂
You made this for us during the summer, right? And I was a bit fearful of the fennel…but it will be on this week’s shopping list! Can’t wait to try it.
I made something quite similar for Easter, I think! But that was before I bothered to look up how to shave fennel, so I had larger pieces of it in the salad. If you’re a bit fearful of the fennel, I think having it shaved would be a great way to try it – it’s a much more delicate flavor that way.
Isadora @ she likes food says
So, I’ve never ever cooked with fennel before. I see it on all the cooking shows and keep saying that I am going to try it, but for some reason I never have! I used to use the fennel flavored toothpaste all the time so I know i love the flavor, so I think I need to go buy some this weekend and start experimenting with it! First up: this awesome looking salad 🙂
I was the same way with fennel for such a long time, Izzy! I am so glad I finally tried it last year, because it’s such a great way to add a unique flavor to a dish. And shaving it is amazingly easy, I promise. Fennel toothpaste? I’m intrigued…I need to track some of that down!
I’m someone who could drink a sambuca cocktail stirred by a licorice stick while chewing Black Jack gum, so a fennel salad looks awfully good to me. I like how you mixed it with those other flavors, colors and textures, too.
Michele @ Two Raspberries says
I love finding new ideas for salads! This one looks super yummy!
Thanks, Michele – I hope you like the salad!