Don't Forget To Add Fennel To Your Citrus Salad

Don't sleep on cooking with a fresh fennel bulb — it's exquisite. Although it resembles celery when sliced, fennel's texture is more crisp than crunchy. Best of all, it imparts a mild anise flavor to whatever dish it's part of, but not as assertive as black licorice (or even the plants' own seeds), which makes fennel bulb the ultimate team player as opposed to the star of the show. One of fennel's very best friends is citrus, particularly lemons and oranges. We see these two paired constantly in preparations both savory and sweet. Because of this, consider adding sliced fennel bulb to your next citrus salad, you'll find it creates a bright, elegant background to the featured protein.

Fennel, an herb that acts like a vegetable, doesn't have a beef with anybody. It loves acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes. Roasted, it takes on a sublime, earthy complexity. It also goes beautifully with sweet things like figs and salty stuff like olives and fish. Pair it with meaty nuts like pistachios, almost every kind of cured meat, and snappy cheeses like Pecorino Romano — no wonder it's such a fixture in Italian cuisine! Fennel bulb has an irreplaceable freshness when used in salad. Let's discuss some summertime fennel and citrus salad pairings.

Fennel and citrus salad ideas

First off, fennel loves to be paired with peppery arugula leaves and voluptuous ripe avocado, so start there. Toss in some peeled, segmented orange slices (perhaps from a deep red Cara or Blood Orange) and you've got a magnificent vegetal bed on which to throw blackened shrimp and finish with a tart citrus vinaigrette. Alternatively, consider tossing together a quick Mediterranean salad with thinly sliced fennel bulb, sliced navel oranges, halved Kalamata olives, mint leaves, fruity olive oil, and salt and pepper. 

You get the idea. Trya salad made of fennel, sliced grapefruit, toasted pistachio nuts, shaved Parmesan, thinly sliced shallots, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It would be the culinary equivalent of inviting all of fennel's friends to a surprise birthday party, with all the gifts going to your tastebuds. Even if you don't think you like licorice flavor, give fresh fennel a shot. In a proper, citrusy context, it will make everything around it taste ineffably better. Oh, by the way, you can also eat its feathery fronds, which look like dill but taste like, well, you know.