This bright, cheery salad has just 2 ingredients. Orange and fennel together make a lovely and refreshing, classic Mediterranean pairing that fits a low-carb meal plan.
Total carbs 12g, net carbs 9g per salad
This is my favorite fennel recipe. Since fennel and oranges are in season around the same time, this recipe is perfect for citrus season. My farm stand, MEVO, harvested sweet crisp fennel in November and I prepared them the way I had enjoyed them in Italy.
Orange and fennel salad ingredients:
There are many variations of orange and fennel salad. This recipe is simply orange, fennel, olive oil and salt. There is no need to use vinegar because the juice from the orange is tart and sweet. You can even make it without olive oil and salt, but these ingredients help to enhance the flavors.
Fresh fennel is the star of this dish with its bright, fresh crunchy texture and mildly licorice-like aroma.
Since fennel bulbs vary in size, use either a medium-sized bulb or 1 cup of sliced fennel.
Fennel is naturally low-carb and is high in Vitamin K. Vitamin K supports blood clotting and healthy bones.
Fresh orange lends a juicy texture to the salad. It adds sweet and sour flavors that pair well with fennel.
A single orange provides a day’s worth of Vitamin C. Oranges are high in sugars, but can be eaten on a low-carb diet in moderation.
Add a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil to carry the flavors. High quality olive oil balances the flavors of the salad by giving it just the right touch of peppery bite and savory silkiness as a counter-balance to the sweet fruity orange and herbaceous fennel.
Consuming extra virgin olive oil helps reduce blood sugar and increases a feeling of satiety (fullness). Olive oil can also play a role in potentially preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Good olive oil is full of polyphenols that fight inflammation and aging.
Finish the salad with a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt to highlight the flavors.
Equipment you’ll need
You need a paring knife to remove the orange peel and to slice the orange and fennel.
optional: mandoline slicer
If you choose to use a mandoline to slice the fennel, please be careful! You can wear a cut resistant mandoline glove to protect your hands.
How to make orange and fennel salad
Arrange sliced fennel and orange on a plate. Dress with a splash of fresh orange juice, olive oil and salt. For a detailed description of each step, scroll down below to read the recipe card.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fresh raw fennel bulb tastes slightly sweet and refreshing. It has a mild anise aroma reminiscent of licorice with a crisp texture that reminds me of a freshly picked apple. Some people think it is a bit like celery. If you’ve ever eaten Good and Plenty candies, fennel tastes a little like that, but not as sweet.
The entire fennel plant is edible, though some parts are better than others. This recipe calls for fennel bulb. The core of the bulb can be too tough to enjoy so remove and discard it. The stalks can be tough and stringy like overgrown celery. Compost the stalks or use them to make broth. Save the fronds for garnish. You can eat fennel seeds as a digestive and breath freshener. Our local Indian restaurant serves a tiny bowl of toasted fennel seeds with rock sugar for this purpose.
In my opinion, when you get good fresh fennel, you should eat it raw in order to do it justice. Eating fennel reminds me of my trip to Rome and Sicily in November, when fennel was in season. When in Rome, we popped into a side street cafe for lunch, where I asked our server to serve me the fresh fennel (finnochio, in Italian) nestled among other vegetables on display. They served the bulb straight up on a plate and instructed me to bite into it like an apple. It was crunchy and refreshing. After a morning of sightseeing, it re-energized me.
It is best to serve raw fennel thinly sliced across the grain. To slice fennel use a kitchen knife to cut off the top and bottom, core it, then slice it thinly just like an onion. This is my preferred method.
How to serve orange and fennel salad
To make this a complete meal add protein. A common pairing for raw fennel is fish. This makes sense since in many cultures people eat fennel to freshen their breath and as a digestive aid. Good fish choices are sardines, tuna packed in oil, smoked mackerel, smoked trout and salmon. The palate cleansing citrus fruit and crunchy texture of raw fennel pairs well with fish. In Sicily, orange and fennel are grown everywhere and the sea provides fresh fish daily. On my trip to the island, I was served orange and fennel salad at a cafe in Palermo, Sicily where it was paired with delicious grilled bluefish. It was so good.
Here in the US, I serve this salad with canned sardines in oil because they are a high-quality source of protein, readily available, affordable and portable too. Adding a can of sardines adds 25g protein, which is 50% of the recommended daily allowance. It also boosts daily vitamin and mineral requirements including 35% RDA of calcium, 343% vitamin B12, and provides an extra 44% RDA of Vitamin D. Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a sustainable choice. Since they are low on the food chain, sardines are a safe choice to avoid the risk of mercury contamination. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website lists sardines among the best choices for seafood. https://www.seafoodwatch.org/
This cheerful orange and fennel salad is my favorite fennel recipe for a quick and easy no cook meal with just 2 ingredients – fresh fennel bulb and orange. Just crack open a can of sardines to make it a complete meal.
1 fennel bulb (1 small to medium or 1/2 large bulb or 1 cup sliced)
1 orange, navel (about 3″ diameter fruit)
a pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
- Prepare fennel by cutting off top. Set aside fronds for garnish. Cut bulb in half lengthwise. Slice off bottom and remove core. Lay fennel halves flat side down and slice thinly like an onion. Arrange sliced fennel on serving plate.
- Prepare orange by cutting off the top and bottom. Then cut in half crosswise. Slide the tip of a knife just inside of skin. Cut around the flesh using the skin as a guide, rolling the orange around as you go. Once the skin is removed, place orange half flat side down on a cutting board. Slice the orange by lightly holding the orange in place with your fingertips while slicing across parallel to the cutting board. Arrange orange slices over the fennel.
- Dress the salad. Squeeze juice from orange tops and bottoms (and any flesh remaining in the peel) over the salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Finish with a pinch of salt.
- Garnish with fennel fronds.
Note: If you choose to use a mandoline to slice the fennel, please be careful! I’ve used one my whole life, yet ended up in the emergency room after not being careful enough. The ER nurses told me that this is pretty common.
- Category: salad
- Method: no cook
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: orange fennel salad no cook diabetic vitamin C low carb mediterranean