This Fennel Salad Recipe with Red Onion is made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, fennel, red onion, parmesan and tossed in chopped romaine.
I am a sucker for a tasty salad. This simple Italian salad is the only side salad recipe you will need. Fennel has so many benefits: they maintain a healthy heart, healthy skin, anti-inflammatory, and aids in weight management. This salad pairs perfectly with any pasta dish, a whole roasted chicken or a juicy Branzino fish dinner.
When I go to Nan’s house, I always crave eating this salad. It is so simple, so delicious, and I love having it when I am down at their house. It goes so well with basically any other dish. The dressing combination of olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano is simply delicious. I love the good crunch from the romaine, the oregano gives the dressing a great kick, and the fennel gives the salad a nice subtle taste.
What is fennel?
Fennel is a plant that belongs to the carrot family, Apiaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is now cultivated in many parts of the world. Fennel has a bulb-like base that can be eaten raw or cooked, and long stalks with feathery leaves that are used as an herb or garnish. It is often used in salads, soups, stews, and vegetable dishes, as well as in teas and liqueurs. Fennel seeds are also commonly used as a spice, either whole or ground, and are known for their digestive properties.
What does fennel taste like?
Fennel has a distinct anise or licorice-like flavor, which makes it a popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Fennel is a nutritious plant, as it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. It is also low in calories, making it a great addition to a healthy diet.
What you will need for this Fennel Salad?
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Red Onion
- Parmesan cheese
- Romaine lettuce
See recipe card for quantities for Fennel Red Onion Salad.
How to make Fennel Salad Recipe
In a bowl or mason jar, mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well.
In a large bowl, add the chopped fennel, red onion, parmesan cheese, and romaine lettuce. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
What Goes Well with Fennel Salad?
- Citrus: Fennel's mild licorice flavor pairs well with the tangy and sweet flavors of citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. Try adding segments of citrus fruit to your fennel salad or making a citrus vinaigrette.
- Cheese: Fennel salad goes well with a variety of cheeses, such as goat cheese, feta, and Parmesan. The creamy and salty flavors of the cheese complement the mild flavor of the fennel.
- Nuts and Seeds: Adding nuts and seeds to a fennel salad can add crunch and nuttiness to the dish. Try adding toasted almonds, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds.
- Herbs: Fennel pairs well with other herbs like parsley, dill, and basil. These herbs add freshness and a pop of color to the salad.
- Grilled Vegetables: Grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and peppers add smokiness and sweetness to the salad, which complements the fennel's mild flavor.
- Seafood: Fennel is a common ingredient in seafood dishes, so it pairs well with seafood like shrimp, scallops, and grilled fish. Try adding grilled shrimp or seared scallops to your fennel salad.
Olive oil: I think olive oil is essential for this dressing, although you could use avocado oil instead.
Vinegar: I used red wine vinegar because I find that it is not too strong of a flavor. You could also use apple cider vinegar.
Oregano: I love using oregano for this dressing, although dried marjoram, parsley, Italian seasoning or basil could work too.
Fennel: I love using fennel for this salad, but if you prefer using cucumber or celery, that could help give it a nice crunch.
Onion: I used red onion for this recipe, although you could use yellow or white onion as well.
Parmesan cheese: I love using shredded parmesan cheese. You could use asiago, Pecorino Romano, or provolone too.
Lettuce: I have always preferred romaine lettuce to most, but I think arugula would be great as well.
Can you make fennel salad ahead of time?
Yes, you can make fennel salad ahead of time, but it's important to store it properly to prevent the salad from becoming soggy or losing its texture and flavor. Here are some tips on how to make fennel salad ahead of time:
- Prep the fennel and other ingredients: Wash and slice the fennel and any other ingredients you plan to add to the salad. Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Dress the salad just before serving: To prevent the salad from becoming soggy, wait to dress the salad until just before serving. Keep the dressing in a separate container and drizzle it over the salad right before serving.
- Use a sturdy dressing: If you want to dress the salad ahead of time, use a sturdy dressing that won't wilt the salad. For example, a vinaigrette made with olive oil and vinegar is a good option.
- Store the salad properly: If you need to store the dressed salad in the refrigerator, make sure to store it in an airtight container. Avoid storing the salad for too long as it can become soggy.
Fennel Salad Recipe Variations
Fennel salad is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit different tastes and occasions.
- Fennel and Citrus Salad: Combine thinly sliced fennel with segments of oranges, grapefruits, or other citrus fruits. Dress the salad with a citrus vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, and honey.
- Fennel, Arugula, and Parmesan Salad: Combine thinly sliced fennel with arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese. Dress the salad with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
- Fennel and Apple Salad: Combine thinly sliced fennel with thinly sliced apples and chopped walnuts. Dress the salad with a honey and cider vinegar vinaigrette.
- Fennel and Beet Salad: Combine thinly sliced fennel with roasted beets and goat cheese. Dress the salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.
- Fennel and Radicchio Salad: Combine thinly sliced fennel with radicchio and toasted hazelnuts. Dress the salad with a Dijon mustard and shallot vinaigrette.
- Fennel and Shrimp Salad: Combine thinly sliced fennel with cooked shrimp, avocado, and cilantro. Dress the salad with a lime and olive oil vinaigrette.
Check out this Shrimp Pesto Salad.
To make a fennel salad with red onion and Parmesan, you don't need any special equipment. Here's a list of the basic kitchen equipment you'll need:
- Chef's knife: You'll need a sharp chef's knife to slice the fennel, red onion, and Parmesan cheese.
- Cutting board: A cutting board is essential for slicing the fennel, red onion, and Parmesan.
- Mixing bowl: You'll need a mixing bowl to toss the salad ingredients together.
- Whisk or fork: To make the salad dressing, you'll need a whisk or fork to mix the ingredients together.
- Measuring cups and spoons: If you're using a recipe, you'll need measuring cups and spoons to measure out the ingredients for the salad and dressing.
- Vegetable peeler (optional): If you prefer, you can use a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmesan cheese into thin strips.
- Salad spinner (optional): If you want to wash and dry the fennel and red onion thoroughly, you can use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
If you have leftover fennel salad, it's important to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh and safe to eat. Here are some tips on how to store fennel salad:
- Refrigerate promptly: After you've made the fennel salad, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it promptly. The sooner you refrigerate the salad, the longer it will stay fresh.
- Separate the dressing: If you've already dressed the salad, keep the dressing in a separate container to prevent the salad from becoming soggy.
- Use within 2-3 days: Fennel salad is best when consumed within 2-3 days of making it. After that, the salad may become limp and lose its flavor.
- Refresh before serving: If the salad has been sitting in the refrigerator for a while, you can refresh it before serving by adding a bit of fresh dressing and tossing the ingredients together.
- Avoid freezing: Fennel salad does not freeze well, so it's best to avoid freezing it.
Here are some top tips for making this Fennel Salad Recipe:
- Slice the fennel and red onion thinly: Use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice the fennel and red onion thinly. This will ensure that they are easy to eat and distribute evenly throughout the salad.
- Use high-quality ingredients: Use fresh and high-quality ingredients to make your fennel salad. Choose a good-quality Parmesan cheese, fresh fennel bulbs, and red onions that are firm and free of blemishes.
- Dress the salad just before serving: To keep the salad fresh and prevent it from becoming soggy, dress it just before serving. This will also help to preserve the crunchiness of the fennel and red onion.
- Use a whisk or blender to mix the dressing: For a smooth and creamy dressing, use a whisk or blender to mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and oregano together.
- Adjust the seasoning to taste: Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning to your liking. You can add more or less oregano, salt, or pepper depending on your preferences.
- Top the salad with shaved Parmesan: Use a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmesan cheese into thin strips and sprinkle it on top of the salad just before serving. This will add a nice texture and flavor to the dish.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove