Fennel becomes a completely different vegetable after a trip though the oven – it loses its classic licorice bite and becomes tender, nutty, and just a bit sweet. Tossed with apples and radicchio, this roasted fennel salad is a cool weather recipe you’ll turn to again and again. It’s bright and deeply flavorful, but also satisfying and nutritious. It rises to the level of fall comfort food in my book, and for a salad, that’s pretty big deal.
It can be difficult to get down with salads once the weather turns decidedly cooler. As I mentioned earlier this week, come winter I pretty much completely pivot from a summertime vegetarian to a staunch meat and potatoes lady. But our fall has been so mild, and our market packed with so much beautiful produce, that I’m finding it pretty easy to whip together seasonal fall salads a few times a week.
This roasted fennel salad with apple and radicchio surprisingly rose to the level of “comfort food” in my book. Roasted fennel loses all of its bite and most of its licorice-y flavor profile, and takes on a mildly sweet, nutty character. It’s really freaking tasty and totally worth the extra step. Roasted fennel is also meaty, so it’s totally satisfying in a salad. Sweet apples cut through the mild bitterness of the radicchio, and the resulting salad is crisp and tender, nutty and vibrant.
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Roasted Fennel Salad Recipe Notes
Obviously this recipe starts out with a bulb of fresh fennel. Thank you, captain obvious. You’ll remove the stalks and reserve the fronds (they’re a nice addition to the salad base), then slice up the bulb into 1/2″ wedges. Fennel can look like an intimidating vegetable, so if you’ve never worked with it before, this is a great video on how to prepare fennel.
After you’ve sliced it up, you’ll toss the fennel wedges with some oil and then roast them until they’re soft and caramelized. The roasted fennel will be tender and golden brown, with a mid, nutty flavor. It becomes a totally different vegetable, because science. Amazing.
While the fennel is roasting, you’ll slice up some crispy apples and some peppery radicchio. I used crimson crisps that we picked up during our annual apple picking trip, but any crisp, sweet apple will do. Go really thin with your apple slices, and use a mandoline if you have one.
Radicchio brings some color into an otherwise very brown salad, but it’s slightly peppery, mildly bitter flavor profile is a great contrast to the sweet apples and nutty fennel.
The dressing isn’t even really a dressing – just some lemon juice and zest, a few glugs of really good olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Toss n’serve baby.
If you believe as I do that most situations in life can benefit from a little bit of cheese, add a few shavings of raw parmesan or pecorino. It’s totally optional (I’m talking to you vegans!) but gives each bite a creamy, salty finish.
This roasted fennel salad holds up really well, so it’s a great option for Thanksgiving where dishes might be sitting out for awhile.
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Looking for another bright, deeply nutritious fall salad? This kale and pomegranate salad is the perfect fit. It’s made with a base of shaved kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, and topped with crispy apples, pomegranate, and pepitas, with a poppy seed vinaigrette.
Roasted Fennel Salad with Apples and Radicchio
Fennel becomes a completely different vegetable after a trip though the oven - it loses its classic licorice bite and becomes tender, nutty, and just a bit sweet. Tossed with apples and radicchio, this roasted fennel salad is a cool weather recipe you'll turn to again and again. It's bright and deeply flavorful, but also satisfying and nutritious.
- 1 fennel bulb sliced into 1/2" wedges, fronds reserved
- 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 1 crispy apple cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 head radicchio cored and thinly sliced
- 1/4 c parsley roughly chopped
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- cracked black pepper to taste
- sea salt to taste
- 1/4 c shaved parmesan or pecorino cheese optional
Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the stalks from the fennel bulb, reserving the fronds for the salad. Peel the outer layer with a vegetable peeler, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the core, then slice into long, thin wedges lengthwise.
Toss the fennel with 1 tbsp oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until the fennel is cooked through and browning around the edges, flipping once halfway through, 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the remaining ingredients. Core and thinly slice the apples (a mandoline is useful here) and the radicchio, then transfer to a salad bowl. Roughly chop the fennel fronds and parsley, and add those to the salad base.
Add the roasted fennel to the salad base. Zest the lemon over the salad (I love my microplane zester), then add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss, and divided onto four plates. Top with the shaved cheese if using, and serve immediately.
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