Fennel orange salad is a bright, citrusy dish you’ll love. It’s a simple winter salad recipe made with crunchy fennel, juicy oranges, briny kalamata olives and a simple vinaigrette. You can make this quick and easy citrus salad in 15 minutes.
Fresh citrus is a big part of the charm of living in Florida. Whenever I drive through Indian River County in the winter, I always stop at a roadside stand to buy bushels of heavy, ripe citrus fruit and get free samples of freshly squeezed juice.
From sweeter-than-sweet Honeybells to Pantone pink Cara Caras and brown and ruby speckled Blood Oranges, Indian River County produces the best citrus in the world – and it’s located in my backyard.
I use the fruit in everything from cocktails, like these Blood Orange Margaritas to savory dishes like French Orange Dijon Chicken, and glazed Cranberry Orange Scones. Heck, I even use the rinds to make my own candied citrus peel.
So this citrus salad with fennel and orange is right in my wheelhouse. This recipe will be your new favorite if you like vibrant, flavorful winter salads with great texture and crunch.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works:
- It uses seasonal at-their-peak ingredients for the best flavor.
- This fennel in the salad adds a crunchy texture and mild anise flavor that pairs well with the oranges.
- It’s super healthy, light refreshing and full of Vitamin C.
- Makes a delicious side dish or starter for a larger meal.
- Fennel Bulb – Fennel is related to carrots, and while you may be more familiar with fennel seed, a common ingredient in Italian dishes, fresh fennel is a delicious, unique vegetable. With feathery fronds and a sturdy bulbous base, this mild vegetable has a slight anise (licorice) flavor that’s more pronounced when eaten raw. Look for bright green bulbs with no brown or soft spots.
- Oranges – You can use any type of orange in this fennel salad recipe. It’s delicious with Valencia, Navel or Cara Cara oranges. You can even use tangerines.
- Shallots – A cross between garlic and onion; shallots usually have 2-3 individual bulbs attached to the root. Be sure to remove any papery skin and rinse away the dirt and detritus before slicing.
- Parsley – I used flat-leaf parsley for this fennel orange salad, but curly parsley is fine, too.
- Kalamata Olives – are black olives grown on the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece and have a robust, meaty, briny flavor. Kalamata olives pair exceptionally well with citrus, offering a salty contrast to the orange and fennel. I prefer the ones packed in oil, but you can also use ones packed in brine. If you can’t find kalamata olives, Castelvetrano would be another good choice — they are softer and less punchy but make a good accompaniment to the rest of the dish.
- Champagne Vinaigrette – You can use my recipe (made from champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil) or a store-bought version of champagne vinaigrette.
Step by step directions:
- Segment the oranges, removing the bitter white pith. Discard any seeds. If you’ve never done this, here’s a video to show you how to supreme an orange. Transfer to a bowl.
- Trim the tops from the fennel and reserve the fronds for garnish. Slice the fennel bulbe in half lengthwise and remove the triangular shaped core.
- Lay the fennel flat on the cutting board and cut it into paper-thin crosswise slices. Transfer the fennel to a bowl.
- Peel and thinly slice the shallots and add them to the fennel. (See Pro-Tips below for removing the sharp flavor).
- Remove the pits from the olives and slice in half lengthwise. Add to the fennel and orange salad.
- Sprinkle on some chopped parsley and toss with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, and add more dressing, salt or pepper if needed.
- Garnish the fennel orange salad with reserved fennel fronds and serve.
To cut the sharpness of the shallots, soak the slices in ice water for about 10 minutes, then pat them dry and add them to the fennel citrus salad.
Soaking them removes the sting but leaves the flavor. You can also use this same trick with onions.
- If you don’t have shallots, substitute with minced red onions instead. Use the Pro-Tip above to take away the sting from the alliums.
- Add crumbles of goat cheese or shaved parmigiano reggiano before serving.
- Use other fresh herbs such as chopped mint leaves, chives or tarragon.
- For more texture and crunch, sprinkle the orange fennel salad with toasted pine nuts, pecans or walnuts.
- For a quicker version, skip making the dressing and drizzle the salad with extra virgin olive oil and a splash of Sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
This winter salad has the best flavors and textures when you make it, so I recommend serving it immediately.
If you have to make it earlier in the day, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than 8 hours. It’s still edible the next day; however, I’ve found that the flavors become muted by the next day.
Do not freeze the fennel orange salad.
Fennel is lightly sweet with a soft anise or licorice flavor. It’s a crunchy vegetable that’s delicious, raw, or cooked.
The fennel bulb is edible, while the darker green stalks tend to be tougher. The fennel fronds make a beautiful and tasty garnish.
What our tasters said:
“It’s an unusual combination, but the flavors work well together. I love the crunch of the fennel and that slight bite of shallot.” — Tess
“OMG – how did you even come up with this combo? I can’t stop eating it.” — Cassie
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Fennel Orange Salad
- Chef’s knife or mandolin
- 1 medium fennel bulb Reserve fronds for garnish
- 2 large oranges
- 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley I used flat leaf
- ½ cup kalamata olives pitted and halved.
- 2-3 tablespoons Champagne Vinaigrette
- Trim the tough green stalks from 1 medium fennel bulb and reserve some of the fronds for garnish.
- Slice the fennel bulb in half vertically and cut out the core. Discard. Slice the fennel into paper-thin slices using a sharp chef’s knife or Santoku. Transfer to a large bowl.
SEGMENT THE ORANGES:
- Place 2 large oranges on a cutting board and trim the ends exposing the inner segments. Use a sharp paring knife to cut away the peel and pith of the orange, from top to bottom, removing the membrane and exposing the flesh.
- Cut between each segment on either side of the membrane to free the orange segment.
- Continue in this manner until you’ve segmented the oranges. Pick out any seeds and discard them. Transfer the orange segments to the bowl.
ASSEMBLE THE FENNEL ORANGE SALAD:
- Add the shallot, parsley and kalamata olives to the fennel and orange salad and dress it with 2 tablespoons of Champagne vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning and add another 1-2 tablespoons, if needed.
- Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and garnish with fennel fronds. Serve.
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