Fennel Salad with Blood Oranges

4.89 from 9 votes
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Enjoy the crisp freshness and citrus delight with this fennel salad recipe featuring blood oranges. This vibrant dish combines the unique crunch of fennel with the sweet, rich burst of blood oranges, crafting a winter salad that’s as nutritious as it is visually stunning.

Fennel salad with blood oranges, avocados, radish, and served with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.

As we ease into spring, it’s time to welcome new fruits and vegetables. I particularly look forward to vibrant and juicy blood oranges. The beautiful magenta color inspired me to create this fennel orange salad. It celebrates the season’s fresh ingredients in one stunning side dish.

You can squeeze the juice from the orange to make a quick and easy citrus vinaigrette with just four additional ingredients! The crunchy vegetables, sweet oranges, licorice flavors, and delicious cheese make for a light, healthy salad.

Recipe ingredients

Three ruby red slices of blood orange placed on top of a fennel salad.
  • Lettuce: When choosing salad greens, I like a blend of tender baby kale, spinach, and red-leaf lettuce. They all have different nutrients like iron, vitamins like K and A, and antioxidants. I add fresh mint for extra aromatics, giving a surprising flavor.
  • Fennel: A must, as it gives the salad a delicate licorice taste.
  • Herbs: Fresh mint leaves add a pleasant cooling sensation.
  • Vegetables: Avocado adds creaminess, while sliced radish provides a peppery note to each bite.
  • Oranges: Use blood oranges if in season, or juicy Navel oranges or Cara Cara are good substitutes.
  • Nuts: Walnuts add a crunchy texture to compliment the greens.
  • Cheese: Aged parmesan cheese delivers a nutty and savory flavor.
  • Vinaigrette: A combination of freshly squeezed blood orange juice, honey, extra-virgin olive oil, and minced shallots.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Cut the fennel

Step 1: The entire plant is edible, but the tender fennel bulb will be used for the recipe. Use a sharp chef’s knife to remove the fennel fronds (the green feathery parts) and stalk from the bulb.

The fronds taste like dill and can be chopped up and added to the salad if desired. Cut the bulb into quarters to make it easier to thinly slice. Thinly slice the fennel about ⅙” thick crosswise with a knife or mandoline to get shaved pieces.

Prepare the oranges

Step 2: Learning how to cut an orange into pretty wedges or “supreme” was one of the first techniques I learned in culinary school. Use a sharp knife to peel away the skin, removing as much white pith as possible.

There are natural segments of the orange cut between the visible lines to make smaller segments. The leftover flesh is used to extract the blood orange juice for the vinaigrette.

Assemble the salad

Slices of radish, cheese, and chopped walnuts tossed in a bowl of fennel salad.

Step 3: I enjoy assembling a gorgeous salad and incorporating different colors and textures. After all, you eat with your eyes first! In a large bowl, toss the spinach, red leaf lettuce, kale, and minute. Top with the shaved fennel, avocado slices, radish, orange segments, chopped walnuts, and parmesan cheese.

Make the vinaigrette

Step 4: For the citrus vinaigrette in this recipe, the juice from the blood orange, red wine vinegar, honey, shallots, and olive oil are combined by vigorously whisking. Honey is a natural emulsifier, helping the vinaigrette stay thickened and mixed a little longer. This creates a semi-permanent emulsion that clings to the salad ingredients.

If not used within an hour, it will separate. No worries, whisk the dressing again right before serving. Taste the dressing and season with sea salt or kosher salt, and black pepper.

Serve

Step 5: I like to serve the blood orange vinaigrette on the side of the assembled salad. That way, guests can see the beautiful presentation before digging in. Drizzle on the dressing to elevate the flavors of the crisp fennel and juicy oranges.

Flavor variations

This fennel orange salad is a great recipe to switch up with different spring-inspired ingredients. Give these tasty options a try:

  • Citrus: Blood oranges have a relatively short season, about December to April, but you can make this salad any time of the year using Cara Cara, Navel, or Valencia oranges. Add grapefruit segments for a more interesting bitter taste. A splash of lemon juice brightens up the vinaigrette.
  • Lettuce: Other types of lettuce can be used, like butterleaf, arugula, or crisp romaine.
  • Vegetables: Add pickled red onion, thinly sliced shallots, raw or cooked beets, cucumber, or carrots.
  • Nuts: Try sliced almonds, cashews, pecans, or pine nuts. Take it up a notch with candied walnuts.
  • Cheese: Pecorino romano or Parmigianno Reggiano. Go creamy with tangy goat cheese or gorgonzola garnishes.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

What does fennel taste like?

Fennel has a mild licorice and anise flavor, which is the dominant taste when eaten raw. Cooked fennel becomes sweeter in flavor and has a soft, onion-like texture.

Can I make fennel salad in advance?

The salad components can be prepared 1 day in advance. Sliced fennel browns over time. I suggest submerging the fennel in water and store in an airtight container. Alternatively, toss with a little bit of lemon juice to delay oxidation.

Can I make this an extra salad?

Fennel salad is a light and refreshing meal, so pair it with a lean protein. Top the salad with grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, or tofu.

Colorful fennel salad recipe served in a plate.

What is an emulsifier?

Sometimes, you need the right “friend” to bring two opposing things together. An emulsifier is a molecule with one oil-friendly and one water-friendly end. This allows the emulsifier to join the oil and water-based ingredients into an emulsion. For the blood orange vinaigrette, the honey not only gives extra flavor but keeps the emulsion together longer.

Fennel Salad with Blood Oranges

A refreshing blood orange and fennel salad. Fresh greens combined with avocado, mint, radish, parmesan cheese and walnuts topped with a citrus vinaigrette.
4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Salad

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 Navel orange
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 cups red leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups baby kale
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint
  • ½ avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 radish, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots

Instructions 

  • Cut the Fennel – Use a sharp chef's knife to remove the stalk from the bulb. Cut the bulb root side down into halves, then into quarters. Thinly slice the fennel about ⅙" thick crosswise, starting from the stem to the root end. Set aside.
  • Prepare the Oranges – Use a sharp paring knife to peel the skin away from the blood oranges. Cut the flesh into orange segments. Squeeze the leftover pulp, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice for the vinaigrette. Cut the Navel orange into segments. Set aside.
  • Assemble the Salad – In a large bowl, gently combine spinach, lettuce, kale, and mint. Top with fennel, avocado, radish, blood orange, navel orange, walnuts, and parmesan cheese.
  • Make the Vinaigrette – In a medium bowl, combine honey, blood orange juice, vinegar, and shallots. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until a lightly thickened dressing is formed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To Serve – Wait to pour the vinaigrette into the salad until right before serving.

Notes

  • Dressing Yield: About ¾ cup
  • Storing: The lettuce plus toppings and dressing can be stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
  • Substituting Blood Oranges: Use Cara Cara, Navel, or Valencia oranges.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 370kcal (19%)Carbohydrates 26g (9%)Protein 7g (14%)Fat 29g (45%)Saturated Fat 5g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat 6gMonounsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 4mg (1%)Sodium 177mg (7%)Potassium 804mg (23%)Fiber 7g (28%)Sugar 16g (18%)Vitamin A 7367IU (147%)Vitamin C 78mg (95%)Calcium 252mg (25%)Iron 3mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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8 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Lynn Chen says

    love your blog! just went to orange for the first time recently (to eat waffle sandwiches at bruxie) but did not check out the farmer’s market.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Lynn! I’m a big fan of Bruxie too, my favorite is the green eggs and ham! Next time swing by the farmer’s market if you get the chance, its saturdays 9-1 🙂

  2. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    I’ve never had a blood orange and have wondered if they taste similar to a regular orange. Looking forward too trying the salad. Healthy AND beautiful. That should be the name of your first cookbook.

    Thank you for another gorgeous dish
    Judy

  3. Amy says

    I’ve never try blood orange!! Are they similar to grapefruits? This salad looks so refreshing! Too pretty to be eaten 🙂 Your recipes are always incredible Jessica! Must go on a hunt for blood oranges now 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Amy! Blood oranges aren’t very tart, so they taste like regular oranges, just not as sweet and tangy. Thank you so for much for the sweet compliment, I can’t wait to hear what you think!