Citrus Fennel Salad
This Citrus Fennel Salad was created after a tasty date night out at Tilia in Minneapolis. I was looking to start with something light, and this salad sounded refreshing and unique, and actually something I wouldn’t normally be drawn to order. I love trying new dishes, and obviously I’m glad I did because it was good enough to recreate at home! It’s likely a seasonal menu item so if you go there and it’s not on the menu, sorry! But lucky for you, you can make it at home!
It starts with just a few simple ingredients like fennel of course, a variety of citrus, hazelnuts, manchego cheese, and fresh basil. I used blood oranges which are in season currently and SO good, along with traditional oranges and white grapefruit. I made a simple champagne vinaigrette to lightly dress the salad. The restaurant used a chamomile vinaigrette that was really tasty! Fennel is said to have a black licorice flavor vibe…but I honestly don’t get that at all. I hate black licorice and I don’t think fennel taste like it at all, so don’t let that deter you!
All of the fresh ingredients make for a wonderful starter salad, and comes together in only a few minutes. You can make the vinaigrette ahead of time, or right before serving. The longer it sits, the more the flavors combine. I sometimes have trouble finding champagne vinegar, but you can order it on Amazon, or I’ve seen it at World Market if you have one close to you. Otherwise a good substitute is white wine vinegar.
This Citrus Fennel Salad is filled with health benefits, check out this article about all the goodness of fennel. I sliced the fennel bulb into strips, but if you want them even thinner you could use a mandolin slicer to get nice thin shavings. Don’t get rid of those fluffy green sprigs on top of the fennel, you’ll use them in the salad too! They make a really pretty garnish and add extra flavor.
Make sure you roast the hazelnuts…or ANY nuts you are cooking with. It brings out their natural oils and completely enhances the nuts so that you get crunch AND flavor. You should be able to find a wedge of manchego cheese in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store. Manchego is made from sheep milk in Spain, and grates up really easily, and adds a nice punch of nutty zesty flavor to the salad.
Hope you enjoy, and try something NEW like I did!
Here are some of my other favorite salads from the blog:
Citrus Fennel Salad
- 3 cups fennel thinly sliced
- 2 grapefruits peeled, sliced
- 2 oranges peeled, sliced
- 2 blood oranges or other seasonal citrus (tangerine) peeled, sliced
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh basil sliced into ribbons
- 1/2 cup manchego cheese finely shredded
For the dressing
- 1/2 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 dashes hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all dressing ingredients into a mason jar or shaker of some kind. Shake until well combined. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
Toast the hazelnuts in a small skillet over medium heat. It will take about 5 minutes but keep an eye on them, and stir occasionally, once you can smell them, they're done!
Arrange sliced fennel and citrus slices on serving plates. Top with toasted hazelnuts and shredded mangecho cheese. Garnish with fresh sliced basil and fennel fronds (the little green feathery tops). Drizzle with desired amount of champagne vinaigrette.
If you have a hard time finding champagne vinegar (which I did) you can substitute white wine vinegar. You can buy it online, or I’ve seen it at World Market, but generally not at your everyday grocery store.
See blog post for fennel slicing tips and health benefits!