This THREE ingredient fennel salad is bright in flavor, delicious, crunchy, and perfect served alongside grilled meat and fish, braised dishes and even pasta. Just 10 minutes is all it takes to throw this together—but you can also prep it ahead of time and pull it out whenever you need it.
What’s in a fennel salad?
There are many variations out there, but looking at the fennel salad in it’s simplest state, you need six things:
- Fresh fennel bulb
- An herb or two
- Something acidic (citrus juice or vinegar)
- Pepper (cracked black pepper or red pepper flakes)
- Optional add-ins include: nuts or seeds, cheese, fresh fruit (apple or orange are common)
Here's what I use for this simple version:
- Fresh fennel bulb
- Fennel fronds (acting as my herb)
- Lemon juice and zest
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
It’s simple. But the thing about fennel is that it does best when served simply. Fennel's flavor and texture speak for itself. And in my opinion, fennel does best when it’s allowed to shine.
How to make fennel salad?
If the short three-ingredient list wasn’t proof enough of how simple this salad is...
here’s how easy this salad comes together:
- Trim the fennel bulb (save the fronds!) and very thinly slice the fennel bulb (use a sharp Chef’s Knife or a mandoline).
- Add some olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the fennel and give it a good toss.
- Chop the fennel fronds, add to the salad; then season with a good amount of cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
- Let the salad rest for 15 minutes or so (this helps soften the fennel) and enjoy!
Can you make fennel salad ahead of time?
This is one of the best salads you can make ahead of time. I might even argue it does better if it is made ahead of time. The benefit of making this salad ahead is that the fennel has a chance to soften a bit from the acid and salt.
How far in advance can you make it? Two days is about as far ahead as you can make it—any longer and it loses a bit of its vibrancy flavor.
If you do end up making it ahead of time, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Fennel salad variations
- Orange: use orange juice and zest in place of the lemon for a slightly sweeter take.
- Add some nuts: toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts would be delicious in this.
- Add an herb: fresh parsley, basil, tarragon or chives would pair well with this salad.
- Cheese: crumbled feta cheese or Parmesan would add a wonderful dose of savoriness.
- Add something briny: sliced green olives or capers do well in this salad as well.
What to serve fennel salad with…
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Crunchy, bright and simple, this fennel salad is the perfect side dish for everything from grilled fish and meat to braised dishes and pastas.
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced (or shaved)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper (or red pepper flakes)
Combine fennel, fennel fronds, olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest in a medium bowl; season with salt and a good amount of cracked pepper. Let salad stand 15 minutes before serving (to soften the fennel).
When serving this fennel salad with a fatty cut of meat (such as lamb chops) I don’t add the olive oil to the salad. Why? Without the oil the tart acidic flavor of the salad cuts through the fatty, savory meat just a little bit better.
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Calories: 48
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 178mg
- Fat: 3g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5g
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 0.5g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: fennel salad, shaved fennel salad, fennel citrus salad