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If you haven’t yet become acquainted with fennel then may I suggest you take a closer look at this interesting and nutritious vegetable.
Fennel offers a crunchy, slightly sweet, and refreshing addition to your salad menu. It’s distinctive, yet mild, licorice flavor is more pronounced when you eat it raw.
Mark Bittman who writes in The New York Time food section shares his advice on using fennel for salads:
Because it’s a bulb, and an oddly shaped one at that, fennel may be daunting to handle if you’ve never done it before. Start by trimming the top off, saving a few of the feathery fronds for garnish if you like, and then cutting the bulb into quarters. The usually super-tough outermost layer is sometimes best discarded, but it’s a judgment you have to make with each specimen. Then simply slice as thinly as possible. It’s a perfect excuse to break out that mandoline, as what you’re after are paper-thin slices that, like lettuce, give you a bed to build on.
Generally shredding fennel with a mandoline would be my first choice, however, unfortunately, I left my ceramic mandoline behind somewhere in my travels. This is a great little tool and a wonderful addition to any raw food kitchen. However, in this recipe, I actually appreciated the crunchy texture created by slicing the fennel. You can try it either way and see which one you prefer.
The taste of fennel may seem unusual at first bite but if you’ve never eaten it before why not be adventurous and give it a try? Chances are you may learn to appreciate it’s unique flavor profile.
The Health Benefits of Fennel
Fennel offers a host of health benefits and has a long history of use in natural medicine. It is low in calories making it an ideal weight-loss food and provides a wide array of nutrients including fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C.
Fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients—including the flavonoids rutin, quercetin, and various kaempferol glycosides—that provide a strong antioxidant effect.
It also contains a special compound called anethole that has been shown in scientific studies to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer. This effect may be due to a biological mechanism that inhibits NF-kappaB – a molecule involved in triggering inflammatory responses and expression of negative genes.
Traditionally fennel is used as a digestive aid because it is rich in essential oils that help relax the stomach and stimulate the movement of the digestive system. This helps to relieve bloating and flatulence while simultaneously stimulating a healthy appetite and good digestion.
In this salad, I paired raw fennel with oranges and pomegranate to create a fresh and seasonal dish. Dill and red onion add some extra interest and lead this salad in a more savory direction.
No need for a dressing here! The orange and pomegranate add a little acid and lots of juiciness. A dash of Himalayan salt is optional and helps bring all of the flavors together.
The avocado is also optional but I definitely recommend it, especially if you plan on using this as a complete meal.
Fennel, Orange and Pomegranate Salad
Serves 4 as a main dish salad or 8 as an appetizer
1 bulb fennel, sliced
4 navel oranges, quartered and sliced
Seeds from one pomegranate
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
Dash of Himalayan salt (or to taste)
2 avocados, sliced
In a large salad bowl toss together sliced fennel, oranges, pomegranate, onion, dill. Adjust salt according to your preference.
Aren’t these vibrant colors just beautiful?
Served as it is this salad would be a wonderful appetizer or side dish for a seasonal or holiday meal.
With the extra avocado, it makes a fantastic raw food lunch or light dinner. This is the way we enjoyed it and it was light and clean-tasting yet incredibly satisfying. This avocado was huge! That is actually a regular-size dinner plate.
It is also terrific to really enjoy eating a salad that doesn’t contain any added oils. Everything in this meal is exactly the way nature intended. Fresh, raw and unprocessed!