Fennel Grapefruit Salad is a fresh and healthy side dish with bright and slightly bitter citrusy flavors paired with the mild anise flavor from the fennel and sweetness from the pomegranate. This is a really easy way to incorporate delicious winter flavors into your diet in a healthy way.
Winter is such a strange mix of trying to be super healthy, yet we are cold so we lean towards comfort food. A way we can balance this, is by serving healthy salads next to our more … comforting main courses.
Because it is all about the balance! I am never saying no to classic fudgy brownies, cheesy enchiladas and a rosemary butter steak, but that does not mean all our meals have to be less healthy (to our bodies, NOT our minds, my mind needs brownies to stay sane).
Enter this fennel grapefruit salad, a vibrant salad full of vitamin C, fiber and lots of other important minerals and vitamins. Exactly what we need on a dark winter day, but it's also fresh enough for us craving it during the summer months.
What is fennel and how do we use it?
To be honest, this is my first formal recipe with fresh fennel in it. I have always been kind of intimidated by it, didn’t know what to do with it and I was afraid the anise flavor would overpower everything. But it didn't!
Fennel (also known as Florence fennel) is a vegetable that also doubles as a herb and even a spice. I have only used the bulbous vegetable in this dish, but the feathery tops can be sliced and used as herbs. The seeds inside can be dried and used as a spice, which is more common in the Mediterranean. However, I have used fennel seeds in curries, smoothies and Chinese five spice.
So we usually say that fennel tastes like anise, but they are not the same plants. Anise is just a term people use to explain the flavor profile. Texturally the fennel resembles a celery, being quite crunchy and fibrous when raw and can be used just like a root vegetable.
It is an amazing flavor enhancer in stews and casseroles, use it just like you would use a celery stick. I also love them raw in salads! Just make sure to thinly slice them.
How to cut a fennel
The entire fennel can be used. As mentioned, the feathery tops can be used as herbs and the seeds can become a dried spice. For this dish, you will need the white, bulbous body of the vegetable.
Cut the bulb in half from the top, and then each half into quarters. You can now thinly slice both lengthwise or widthwise, or finely chop it. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even shave the fennel super thinly.
Do you not like the bitterness of grapefruit?
I tried this recipe on my family, and everyone loved it. However, one person stated that it was a little too bitter for her. That is completely fine, and it is a super easy fix!
Instead of grapefruit, this would be equally delicious with a juicy orange. Simply use orange just like how the grapefruit is prepared in the recipe. Or clementine, or any other citrus you like. Blood orange season is short but oh, so delicious (I’m dreaming of you, blood orange margarita).
How to cut and peel the grapefruit
You don’t have to make a big deal out of this, but to reduce the chance of bitterness we also want to reduce the amount of white rind (which is where most of the bitter flavor is). To do this, you can peel the grapefruit with a knife, making sure you get into the flesh of the grapefruit.
Cut the bottom off the grapefruit to make it more sturdy, and then run the knife along the fruit. You can also take each wedge out of its skin to make the grapefruit completely skin-free. I also slice each wedge in half to make them bite-sized.
A note on pomegranates and pomegranate juice
The pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette naturally calls for pomegranate, and pomegranate juice in that case. First of all, a pomegranate is a pain in the butt to open, but I still have a ton of recipes using pomegranates. Why? Because pomegranates are amazing.
- Honey Balsamic Brussels Sprouts sprinkled with fresh pomegranates
- Pomegranate Cucumber Vodka Lemonade uses freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
- Moroccan Turkey Casserole with Spinach
- Za'atar Date and Goat Cheese Naan
- Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup
- Lemon Chicken Winter Salad
- Christmas Eggnog and Cherry Pavlova
They work wonderfully both for sweet and savory dishes, so I always have one or two at hand.
If you need tips on how to open the pomegranate, I have a more thorough explanation for this in the lemon chicken winter salad mentioned above. You can now juice it just like in the Pomegranate Cucumber Vodka Lemonade to get the juice for the vinaigrette. Remember to reserve some of the arils for the salad.
If you don’t want to juice the pomegranate, you can of course get store bought juice. But you still need the fresh pomegranate arils in the salad, in my opinion!
How to Make This Fennel Grapefruit Salad
Most of the work lies in the pomegranate, as mentioned above. The rest is just piece of cake! To make the salad, mix the spinach and mint in a large serving bowl, and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate arils, thinly sliced fennel, peeled grapefruit and crumbled feta cheese.
In a dry pan, roast some coarsely chopped walnuts until fragrant, just a couple of minutes. Now sprinkle on top of the salad.
To make the pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette, you mix all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning. The key to a good vinaigrette is that it should taste really sour and salty. That will balance the rest of the ingredients nicely.
Serve this fennel grapefruit salad with a rosemary butter steak for the weekend, a quick serrano pita pizza, Lebanese kofta meatballs or chicken shawarma for everyday delicious dinners. You can even serve it with a whole roasted chicken for a smaller Thanksgiving gathering. Enjoy!
Did you like this recipe? Here’s more healthy salads I think you will like:
- Strawberry Arugula Summer Salad (the summer version of this dish!)
- Zucchini Tomato Pasta Salad (healthier summer pasta salad)
- Grilled Halloumi Salad with Roasted Vegetables (love the warmth in this dish)
- Kale Butternut Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts (the fall version!)
- Lemon Chicken Winter Salad (my favorite main course salad for winter)
- Tabbouleh with Quinoa (so fresh and zesty!)
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