This is my favorite salad of all time. I eat it once a week for lunch. I think it is the unique pairing of flavors that makes me crave it so much–crisp & herbal fennel, bright citrus, creamy avocado, briny olives. Yum.
Fennel is relatively new to me. I had a salad made with raw fennel at a fancy restaurant in Montreal back in 2005. I remember thinking it was exotic and interesting at the time, but it slipped my mind for awhile. Then I made this pasta dish (from one of my favorite PBS hosts) that has cooked fennel in it, and I became intrigued with fennel again. (Because any recipe that elicits the phrase, “This is DEEEEEEEELICIOUS!” from a 3 year old is worth repeating.) Then this salad appeared in Cook’s Illustrated and I figured it was worth a try. Boy am I glad I did. It is the perfect salad for the winter because citrus is at its best, and it is somehow filling & light at the same time. Plus, it looks a little fancy so it could easily make a nice side dish at a Christmas dinner.
Fennel & Avocado Salad (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine)
- 1 small fennel bulb (with fronds attached)
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 avocado (halved, pitted & cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
- 1 orange (cut into supremes, see Notes)
- 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
- 2 Tablespoons chopped green olives
- Remove the fronds from the fennel and chop. Set aside. Cut the fennel bulb in half. Remove the core of the fennel. Thinly slice the cored fennel bulb and set aside in a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk the vinegar, paprika, mayonnaise, & orange zest together in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Whisk in the olive oil. Set dressing aside.
- Place avocado slices on serving platter. Drizzle with half of the dressing.
- Toss sliced fennel with the remaining dressing. Scatter over the avocado. Sprinkle the olives, almonds, orange supremes, & chopped fennel fronds over the top.
Serves: 2-4 as a side salad
Time: 15 minutes
Notes: You can easily make this vegan by omitting the mayonnaise (it keeps the dressing emulsified, but it is not critical to flavor). If you want to see how to supreme an orange, this is a great guide.