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Paper-thin slices of fennel dress up beautifully with a simple but super-flavorful dressing that comes together right on the serving plate. And shaved fennel salad with lemon caper vinaigrette tastes even better than it looks.
Why we love this recipe
Shaved fennel salad with lemon caper vinaigrette has so much to offer. It’s:
- Super-quick and super-easy to make
- Absolutely gorgeous on the table
- A versatile side-dish that pairs especially well with fish and chicken dishes
- A salad for all seasons. Fennel grows well in the fall and winter, so it’s available even when lots of other salad greens are past their peak.
What you’ll need
Just a handful of powerhouse ingredients come together to make this savory shaved fennel salad.
- Raw fennel has a mild anise flavor and a great, refreshing crispness. When you slice it paper-thin and marinate it in the dressing, it’s just the right amount flavorful.
- Capers in brine work perfectly for this recipe, since you’ll use a bit of each.
- Flaky sea salt like Maldon salt adds an especially nice dimension to this salad, but you can use a sprinkle of fine sea salt or kosher salt if you don’t have it.
How to make it
Making this quick salad couldn’t be easier. We like to use our mandoline slicer to quickly cut paper-thin slices, but if you don’t have one, you can use a chef’s knife or the slicing blade of a food processor.
- Trim and discard a thin slice from the woody root end of the bulb. Remove the green stems and fronds. You can juice these later, and fronds make a terrific garnish wherever you’d use fresh herbs. Cut trimmed the bulb in half from top to bottom. If the bulb has a wider side and a narrower one (which most do), cut it across the wide side.
- Slice the bulb halves on a mandoline. Wash the slices very well, and dry them well. Washing after slicing helps ensure there’s no grit between the layers.
- Arrange the slices on a serving plate.
- Sprinkle all the dressing ingredients over the shaved fennel. There’s no need to mix the dressing in advance. If you have time, let it sit for 10 to 30 minutes before serving so the fennel marinates a bit.
Expert tips and FAQ
You can! You can plate this whole salad up to a day before and cover it tightly in the fridge, or leave it at cool room temperature for up to a couple of hours. Just hold off on adding the fennel fronds and the flaky salt until right before serving.
You can keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
What to serve with this recipe
This salad makes a very versatile side dish, but we especially like it with fish, seafood, and chicken dishes. Try it with:
- Seared scallops
- Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp
- Slow-roasted salmon
- Striped bass
- Stuffed chicken breasts
- Simple roast chicken
- 2 small fennel bulbs (about 1/2 pound // 225 grams total)
- 2 tablespoons (29 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) caper brine
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Trim the fennel: Cut a thin slice off the root end of the bulb to remove any tough, dry parts. Cut off the fronds and green stems.
- Halve the fennel bulbs: You should now have just the white part of the fennel left. Cut each bulb in half from top to bottom.
- Use a mandoline slicer to thinly slice each half. If you don't have a mandoline, you can use a chef's knife or the slicing disk of a food processor. Cut as thinly as possible.
- Wash the fennel slices well and dry them well. We use a salad spinner for this.
- Arrange the fennel on a serving plate.
- To dress the salad, sprinkle it with the oil, caper brine, lemon juice, minced capers, fennel fronds, lemon zest, and salt and pepper.
- Save fennel fronds and green stems for juicing. Fronds also make a beautiful, mild-flavored garnish for a wide variety of dishes. Use them just like fresh herbs.
- Most fennel bulbs will have a wider dimension and a narrower one. It helps to halve each bulb across the wide side, so that you can then make nice narrow slices on the mandoline. Refer to the video accompanying this post for visual cues.
- Washing the fennel after slicing helps to remove any sand and grit from between the layers.
- The salad is ready to eat right away, but if you have time to leave it at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes to give the dressing a chance to permeate the fennel, it will be even better.
- Store any leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 74mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g