Easy Fennel Salad

easy shaved fennel salad with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs on a plate
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Crunchy and refreshing, our sophisticated summer fennel salad recipe is dressed simply with bright citrus, good olive oil, a sprinkling of parmesan and fresh mint leaves to let the light, fresh anise-like flavor of shaved fennel bulbs really shine.  

Summer’s Simplest Salad

Say that three times fast. But truly, summer is the season of easy, lazy, fresh food—ripe-to-bursting mid-summer produce sings with flavor and needs very little help to taste its best, and fennel bulbs are no exception. A light touch is the key to making the best shaved fennel salad.

The Case for A Lazy Fennel Salad Recipe

The lightly licorice-esque flavor of fennel bulbs is so unique, we just can’t emphasize enough how little you need to do to transform them into the most elegant summer salad you’ve ever served. Find these pale green bulbs—sometimes still attached to their dill-like, darker-green fennel stalks, which are great for making stock—at the farmers market in summer, and grab a little fresh mint while you’re at it. This fennel recipe is true to the old adage “what grows together goes together”—fresh mint and fennel bulbs are in season at the same time, and are a perfect, fresh and delicious pair. Add a little fresh citrus and good olive oil and you’re golden.

ingredients for shaved fennel salad

But Wait—Can You Put Raw Fennel in a Salad?

YES! That’s what we’ve been getting at, friends! The best fennel recipe is one that involves no cooking at all—a lightly-dressed, raw fennel salad is the best way to enjoy this unusual bulb. As with most raw salads, the secret is in the technique—in this case, the one trick to know is exactly how to slice the fennel for a salad.

On Cutting Fennel for Salad:

Our fennel recipe is yields a delicate, crunchy salad that is downright restaurant-worthy and getting the fennel sliced super, super thin is paramount. If you have a mandoline slicer, this fennel salad recipe is its moment to shine! Here’s how to slice fennel for salad:

  • With a very sharp knife, slice the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom.
  • Use the tip of your knife to carefully remove the core of the bulb.
  • Now, follow the manufacturer's instructions to use your mandoline slicer to shave the raw fennel, or use your sharp knife to thinly (super thinly!) slice the fennel bulb. You can cut the raw fennel bulb lengthwise or across—whatever style you prefer.
prepped ingredients for shaved fennel salad in a bowl

How To Make Fennel Salad:

Now that your fennel bulb is beautifully shaved, prep a light dressing to make this zingy, crunchy, fresh summery salad really sing.

  1. Prep the citrus! Use a microplane (you’ve got one, right? They’re the BEST.) to zest a lemon, then juice it.
  2. Whisk your lemon juice and lemon zest with some good extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly-cracked pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over your shaved fennel and toss it all together.
  4. Add a sprinkle of fresh mint leaves and parmesan and toss it all together once more.
  5. Fin! That’s it, friends. Now, you can refrigerate the salad up to 6 hours before serving, or serve immediately—it’s delicious cold, or served at room temperature.

What Goes Well with Fennel Salad?

This citrusy, fresh fennel salad makes a lovely light lunch on a hot day, but we also love to serve it as a refreshing side dish. Elegant and a bit unusual, raw fennel salad is one of our favorite things to serve to friends in the summer. It’s easy to make-ahead—it doesn’t mind a little fridge time—and it goes with so many of our warm-weather faves. Try serving it with:

easy shaved fennel salad topped with flaky salt, fresh herbs and parmesan
easy shaved fennel salad with lemon wedges on a plate

Summer Goodness, Any Way You Slice It. 

How did our fennel salad recipe work out for you? Snap a photo of your shaved fennel salad and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Easy Fennel Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 fennel bulbs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup parmesan

Method

  1. In a small bowl mix together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Using a mandolin, shave fennel until almost translucent. Toss shaved fennel along with fresh mint, parmesan cheese and prepared lemon salad dressing.