This a simple, refreshing salad that is the perfect transition from winter to spring. The inspiration for this Spring Citrus Salad came from a salad I had last week at Winslow’s Home, a local St. Louis restaurant. The salad was quite simple but bursting with bright flavor. The base made from young pea sprouts and fennel was topped with the juiciest combination of winter citrus, and a touch of creamy goat cheese and fresh herbs that tied everything together. I loved the combination so much, as soon as I finished, I knew I wanted to recreate a similar salad to share with you. Thankfully this recipe was simple enough and I was able to replicate all the flavors and textures of the fabulous salad, and I’m sharing it here with you today.
In addition to this bright spring citrus salad, I’m excited to share with you all that this is actually the first time I’ve ever purchased and used fennel in my kitchen. I’ve previously avoided this vegetable because of its flavor profile similar licorice taste (I cannot stand black licorice!), but to my surprise, I loved the mild flavor and crunchy texture of the raw fennel in my salad. I was pleasantly surprised and it was a wonderful reminder for me continue to try (or retry) foods that I’ve previously not particularly liked. So, I encourage you, if you’ve never tried fennel or have previously not found it appealing, to give it another chance. This Spring Citrus Salad is a perfect way to start!
Fennel, Not Black Licorice
Fennel is best described as having an aromatic, mild licorice taste. However, if you’re not a fan of black licorice, this can be extremely off-putting. I certainly associated the two, and for that reason avoided fennel at all costs. Thankfully, I gave this plant another chance and was pleasantly surprised. While fennel is described as having a licorice taste, it is an extremely mild, fresh flavor that (in my opinion) drastically differs from the black chewy candy if often gets associated with. Fennel, anise, and licorice all share similar taste properties but are all entirely different plants. Fennel is botanically related to celery and parsley and provides a slightly sweet, fresh flavor to cooking. The bulb, stalk, and fronds are all edible and can be used fresh or cooked. In addition to its culinary uses, fennel has numerous nutritional benefits and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber and a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and iron. It also has a unique ability to aid in digestion. This is mostly due to its high fiber content, but also due to its phytochemical profile, especially in its seeds, that helps stimulate digestive juices and prevent bad breath! This is why it is a common practice of eastern cultures to chew fennel seeds after a meal.
Even though fennel has numerous nutritious qualities, it is important to note that because of its high potassium content anyone with kidney disease or on beta-blockers for blood pressure should be cautious of their fennel consumption and should talk to their doctor or a dietitian for individualized recommendations.
This Spring Citrus Salad a simple, refreshing salad that is the perfect transition from winter to spring. Lingering winter citrus and mellow fennel combine with young spring greens, shallots and parsley to make a simple salad full of flavor. The salad is topped with a creamy yogurt tahini dressing that compliments the tart juicy grapefruit and sweet orange. It makes for the perfect starter or light side salad to a more substantial meal. In addition, you could add protein like chickpeas, lentil or tofu, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, millet, or sweet potatoes, a little more veggies, and some nuts/seeds or avocado and you have yourself a balance hearty salad or bowl meal.
Recipe Notes: The slightly bitter grapefruit is balanced out by the sweetness of the orange and the mild fennel, but feel free to use any winter citrus to suit your taste preference. The recipe calls for watercress but any tender greens will work in this salad combination. I think microgreens or pea sprouts would be lovely. This dressing can be made with or without dairy. I gave the option of using Greek yogurt or a dairy-free yogurt just as almond or coconut, but raw cashews or more tahini would work well and make a delicious, slightly nuttier dressing.
Spring Citrus Salad
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 orange any variety
- 1/2 fennel bulb fronds reserved
- 2 cups watercress or other spring greens or sprouts
- 1-2 shallots
- 1/4 cup yogurt tahini dressing
Yogurt Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt dairy-free if necessary
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 teaspoons water plus more for thinning
- 1 garlic clove minced and crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
Using a sharp knife, cut off the top and bottom of the citrus so you have a sturdy foundation. Cut down the side of the fruit removing the skin and pitch, then cut into thin slices. Set aside.
Slice the fennel bulb in half, keeping the core intact, cut very thin vertical slices (a mandolin works great if you have one!). Remove the fronds from the fennel stalk. Add these to a large bowl.
Next, slice the shallots as thinly as possible. Toss the shallots and watercress into the bowl with the fennel. You have the option of dressing the fennel and greens now then adding the citrus. I personally like adding the citrus and drizzling with the dressing once plated (as shown above).
To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Continue to add water until your desired consistency. I left mine on the thicker side*.
*I use Greek yogurt to make this dressing. If using a dairy-free yogurt such as almond milk or coconut milk yogurt, your dressing will not be as thick since those yogurts are thin to begin with.
Your turn! Do you like fennel? Do you use it often in your cooking? I’d love to know your favorite ways to use it. Let me know in the comments. Also, if you make this recipe I’d love to know! Comment below and make sure you snap a pic and tag #nourishedbynutrition on Instagram so I can see!