Summer fennel salad is a perfect side dish for long hot days in the sun. Fennel is a versatile vegetable that is often used in Irish cooking
Fennel is a vegetable that tastes like anise and has a hint of licorice flavor. It is popular in Mediterranean cuisine but also often features as the main ingredient in Irish salads, such as this shaved fennel salad.
Anise Flavored Fennel
Fennel goes well with Parmesan cheese and lemon sherry vinegar dressing, the highlight of this recipe.
Shaved fennel salad, a bright summer side dish can be served alongside any meal or used as a side dish to accompany your favorite sandwiches, burgers or steaks!
This is a salad I would describe as bright and tangy. It's a sophisticated fennel salad, served with a delicious sherry vinegar and lemon juice dressing, then topped with Parmesan shavings. The distinctive taste of citrus paired with good olive oil imparts incredible flavor to the dressing.
The lightly anise-like flavor of the fennel shines through. I like to blanch the shaved fennel leaves for just one minute to slightly soften them for this salad.
Fennel - A Summer Seasonal Vegetable
Summer is the season of easy, throw-it-together, fresh, no-bake meals and salads are the star of my summer food show. Fennel bulbs are in season in summer, and they need very little preparation for tasty salads.
Fennel is a popular Irish vegetable. It's mild licorice or anise flavor is very distinctive.
Fennel boasts a pale green bulb that you'll find in the produce aisle of most grocery stores. Sometimes they're sold without their upper stalks, which have darker green feathery dill-like leaves. These fennel fronds can be cut off for this salad. If you don’t like waste, save them and add them to the pot when making stock.
Many fennel salad recipes use totally raw fennel shavings. This works fine. It's perfectly okay to eat raw fennel. However, for the best fennel salad recipe I like to blanch the chopped fennel bulb in boiling salted water for just one minute to slightly soften any harder leaves.
Ingredients for Fennel Salad
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious salad. You’ll find exact quantities in the printable recipe at the end of this post. You can also toggle between US and metric versions of this recipe.
- fennel bulb
- sherry vinegar
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt to season dressing
- black pepper to season dressing
- chopped fresh parsley
- Parmesan cheese (shaved)
- boiling water
- sea salt for blanching the shaved fennel leaves
How to slice a fennel bulb
This is a delicate, crunchy salad and the key to cooking success is slicing the fennel bulb as thinly as possible. Here’s how I like to slice a fennel bulb...
- Slice off the stalks and feathery leaves from the top of the bulb.
- Cut a thin slice at one end to remove any tough outer layers, then cut in half lengthwise.
- Stand each piece upright on its base (or lay down if that's easier). Then use your fingers or knife to remove the hard outer layer.
- Slice across the bulb to create slices about a quarter inch thick, then chop or slice into smaller pieces as desired (this is what I do).
- To remove any tough bits between individual fennel leaves that are left after slicing and chopping them up, use your fingers or knife to scrape them out.
If you have a mandoline slicer, then let it work its magic on your fennel bulb. Be sure to follow all of the safety instructions to avoid cut finger tips.
How to Blanch Fennel Leaves
Blanching softens the fennel leaves. It's simply a quick dip in boiling salted water for no more than a minute. Here's how I accomplish this step.
- To blanch the fennel leaves for one minute: Bring a pot of water to boil and add some salt.
- Add four cups or more of boiling salted water, then place the chopped up fennel leaves in a colander inside that and let them sit there for just one minute before draining out the excess water.
- You can also use a slotted spoon to remove the blanched fennel leaves from boiling salted water and transfer them to cold running tap water for quick cooling, or just let it cool on its own in a colander after draining out all of the hot water.
After you've prepared the shaved fennel for this summer salad, you are then ready to proceed with the dressing.
How To Make the Lemon Sherry Vinegar Dressing for Summer Fennel Salad
Start by whisking together some lemon juice and olive oil in a dressing jar or small bowl.
Then add sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to taste (remember that all ingredients should be added gradually as opposed to dumping it all into the mixture at once).
How To assemble Shaved Fennel Salad
Place a bed of shaved blanched and cooled fennel leaves on your serving dish.
Pour over the dressing and mix well together. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley to garnish and Parmesan cheese shavings.
Serve promptly as this is intended to be eaten fresh
It can be refrigerated for upto 1 hour before serving. Any longer and it will wilt after sitting for too long.
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
If you would like to prepare this salad in advance, you can make the dressing a day ahead and store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
Slice the fennel bulb in advance, but do not blanch it until the day you wish to serve this salad.
Don't dress the salad until just about an hour before serving.
Here's the printable recipe if you would like to add it to your kitchen files.
Shaved Fennel Salad
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt to season dressing
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper to season dressing
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped finely
- 4 ounces Parmesan cheese shaved
- 4 cups boiling water for blanching the sliced fennel leaves
- ¼ teaspoon salt for blanching fennel
- Trim the fennel bulb. Slice as thinly as possible. Add the boiling water to a large heat proof bowl. Add the salt. Blanch the sliced fennel in the hot water for one minute. Remove from the water and drain.
- In another large salad bowl whisk together the lemon and olive oil. Gradually add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the fennel and mix to completely coat it in dressing. Cover the salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- To serve, add Parmesan shavings and chopped fresh parsley to garnish.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
This fennel salad boasts bright and tangy flavors, is deliciously crunchy, and is perfect as a side dish for any grilled meat and fish. Try it with Guinness marinated steaks for a true taste of Ireland.
Fennel salad is the best way to enjoy this unusual vegetable, in my book. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
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Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)