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Recipe for fennel, apple and walnut salad with pomegranate-orange dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Fennel, apple and walnut salad with pomegranate orange dressing.

If a vegetable can be called schizophrenic, fennel fits the diagnosis. Roasted or baked fennel melts in your mouth; it's sweet, with a mild flavor that hints of celery and dill. Raw fennel, on the other hand, hits your taste buds with the bite of anise (here in Rhode Island, fennel is often sold as anise), which tastes a bit like licorice. Sometimes that can be a bit overwhelming, but thanks to my sister-in-law Jill, I now know the secret to preparing raw fennel. Slice the fennel as thin as possible, on a mandoline if you have one, and "marinate" it in an acid- or mustard-based dressing for 15 minutes or so before serving. The acid will tenderize the fennel and mellow the flavor while still leaving plenty of crunch, and I promise you will fall in love with it even if you've never loved fennel before. Apples and fennel are available in our markets year-round, making this salad a perfect accompaniment for Thanksgiving turkey, or turkey burgers cooked on the grill.

Fennel, apple and walnut salad with pomegranate orange dressing. #vegan #glutenfree

Fennel, apple and walnut salad with pomegranate-orange dressing

From the pantry, you'll need: pomegranate molasses, olive oil, agave nectar, walnuts.

Serves 4.


For the dressing:
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
Juice of 1/2 orange
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp agave nectar or honey
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper

For the salad:
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, a few fronds reserved for garnish
1 red-skinned apple
2 tsp finely chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until the dressing emulsifies (thickens). Set aside.

With a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the fennel and apple as thin as you can (1/8-inch or so). Place in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle on a few teaspoons of the dressing. Mix gently to coat, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the walnuts and parsley, and a bit more of the dressing if needed. Toss everything gently, and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More fun fennel recipes:
Fennel, pear and olive salad, from The Perfect Pantry
Beet and fennel salad, from The Perfect Pantry
Whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives, from The Perfect Pantry
Tomato, orange and fennel soup, from Soup Chick
Warm barley and fennel salad, from Food Blogga

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Beautiful fall salad!

Maria, this salad really brightens up the holiday table -- visually and taste-wise. I love pomegranate molasses!

The fennel fronds look fantastic with the grid design of that plate!

Oh I love the looks of this salad!

Laura, I got those lovely little plates at Wickford Gourmet outlet. I might have to buy more of them.

Kalyn, the salad is so much better than it looks in my photos! Some day I will reshoot it. It's truly mouthwatering, and definitely will make an appearance on my Thanksgiving buffet.

That looks wonderful. I've never felt the need to temper the taste of raw fennel (they call it "anise" here in Needham MA too), maybe because I like licorice. But ouzo and the other licorice-flavored liquors make me gag. Go figure.

By the way, a good friend tells me that in Neopolitan dialect they call it "fenook."

Must go buy me some pomegranate molasses.

Holy cow delicious! I used to pick the stalks of wild fennel on my walks to school in the mornings when I was a kid. I am instantly transported by the smell.

What a perfect recipe for Fall! I'm with you on fennel and its "multiple personalities!"

Jean, I've heard fenook, too (the Italian is finocchio, I think).

EB, what a fun walk to school that must have been!

tried the marinated fennel today and it was great - still had crunch and flavor without taking over our salad

I just tried raw fennel for the first time and didn't like the strong flavor. Now I want to try marinating it with dressing to see if it improves the flavor for me.

this looks so fresh and a delicious use of raw fennel!

Zesty Cook, I like fennel both ways now, cooked and raw, but it really seems like two different vegetables.

Mary, so glad that worked for you. I love fennel in salad, and of course it's a great excuse to get out my mandoline.

M, see Mary's comment -- the short marinating really works. The same thing works with onions, too; I can't eat raw onions, but if I let them sit in water for a few minutes, the rawness seems to leach out.

Alyssa, my family tends to go for very brown foods at the holidays, and since I'm hosting this year, I'm planning to have several salads on hand to bring some green to the festivities. This is definitely one dish that will be on my table.

Yum! This might be a good salad for this weekend when the relatives are over.

I have a bumper crop of pomegranates this year - 4. I've been using a bit of fennel lately, both raw and cooked. Great salad!

Curt, this salad goes so well with anything on the grill.

Kate, I'm jealous -- you have pomegranates in your garden? Toss some of the seeds in with this salad. They will add great texture and flavor.

Lydia, this salad was the hit of last night's dinner - simply scrumptious - told my husband it came from the same source as the beet/tomato salad and he wanted to know how many salad recipes you had available. So now I'll check and see what other treasures you have available for us. Thanks so much!!!!

I'm not a huge fan of raw fennel salad, but now that you've revealed the secret of marinating the fennel for a bit before eating it, I will have to give it another try.

Elle, how wonderful! Please tell your husband there are lots of salads to try here, and more to come. My Canadian family is predisposed to brown foods for the holidays, so I have plans to inject more green (and other colors) into our Thanksgiving menu.

Jeanette, marinating really mellow the fennel, and I hope you give it another try. I never liked it before I started to marinate, and now I'm a real fan.

I soak my raw shallot and raw red onions in white vinegar before using them - now I know i can use this trick with raw fennel too!! I am just starting to like fennel! great recipe

Carol, I do the same with shallots and onions, though I usually go all the way and cook them a bit before adding them to salads. Yes, the same trick works with fennel.

Pom molasses rocks! This recipe inspired me to finally find a source for it, and I just made this salad to road test it for turkey day. I declare it fit for my Thanksgiving table! It's delicious, and I love the dressing. Now I can't wait to try the pomegranate pulled chicken recipe. At this rate, I'll be running out of my favorite new ingredient in no time and making the 20-mile trek to the specialty food store (which--oh, dear) is conveniently close to a fabulous shoe store. The things I must do for food....

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