Fennel, tomatoes salad, basil with lemon vinaigrette.
Fennel is one of those vegetables that you can enjoy raw, as here in a salad. Roasted or braised and you have a very silky aromatic yet bittersweet flavor.
It is quite delightful added to a roasting chicken with potatoes and carrots. It caramelizes beautifully as it turns to a golden brown color.
Either way, the fragrant and subtle anise flavor is ever-present.
This light, healthy, super easy to assemble, will make you come back for seconds over and over.
Perfect for a quick lunch at the office, or a light side dish to any fish, poultry, or meat.
What is a fennel?
The fennel is a member of the carrot family, however, it is not a root vegetable.
Hardy and perennial herb with beautifully fragrant yellow flowers and feathery leaves.
The fennel can go either way when it comes to flavor. Either very strong flavor of anise, that pungent black licorice flavor that I loved when I was a kid. Or a mild green flavor, for lack of better words.
The fennel is of Mediterranean origin, it has reached the four corners of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea coasts and on riverbanks.
Most of the plant is edible even though the hollow fennel stalks can be a bit tough. The white bulb is my favorite part which is the most enjoyable. And do not forget the green velvety leaves, which resemble dill and I have used them often with fish.
It has lots of health benefits such as a super high in fiber, and potassium. Vitamins A, C, and B6.
Last but not least, fennel seeds are a huge part of seasoning throughout India, Afghanistan, Iran, and the rest of the Middle East.
What is chiffonade?
A cluster of leaves is stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced with a sharp knife.
This method allows you to enjoy basil, which is very pungent when fresh, in skinny strands.
This fennel basil salad is the perfect use for chiffonade. Small strands of fresh fragrant basil bring out the flavor as well as balance the fennel salad.
The fennel needs to be sliced very thin, almost shaved fennel has the best flavor of anise. I use a mandoline to achieve that level of thinness.
Soft to the bite. Lots of flavors but not overpowering.
Cut the fennel bulb in half. With a knife remove the hard center core. You will see it at a triangle in the middle with a large base and thinning out as it goes up on the bulb. The middle part is quite tough to eat.
Slice the fennel thinly with either the mandoline or a very sharp knife.
I used the Campari tomatoes which are slightly bigger than cherry tomatoes and smaller than regular tomatoes. Use whichever you have on hand.
Use a large bowl to create the vinaigrette so you can gently fold together the tomatoes and fennel.
Grind a few rounds of medium-coarse black pepper all over your dish before serving.
The lemon and basil always compliment each other well and therefore bringing out the fresh clean flavor of the basil.
I just love this fennel tomato salad. Light and full of flavor.
The perfect side dish to any fish, poultry, or pork tenderloin.
If you enjoy this dish, check out these flavorful recipes:
In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, shallots, a pinch of salt and pepper.
Whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream until it is incorporated well and emulsified.
Cut the stalks of the fennel bulbs. Slice off the tough bottom end and remove any tough or discolored our layers. Slice each bulb in half lengthwise and then slice the fennel as thin as you can.
Put the slices in a bowl with room enough to toss them.
Stem the tomatoes and cut them into wedges (I remove the seeds).
Place them in the same bowl as the fennel and add the basil.
Toss with enough of the vinaigrette to coat them well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Originally published on September 22, 2017. Updated on May 9, 2022.