Zucchini and fennel salad is a lovely, healthy, aesthetically pleasing side for when you want to impress with ease.
This zucchini and fennel salad is easy elegance defined. It’s simply thinly sliced vegetables tossed with a citrus vinaigrette and finished with a sprinkle of cilantro. What results is a stunner of a side dish that’s a simple addition to a weekday lunch or a conversation-starting staple for any dinner party.–Angie Zoobkoff
☞ Table of Contents
Zucchini and Fennel Salad
For the vinaigrette
- Juice of 1/2 orange
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
- 2 medium (1 lb) fennel bulbs
- 2 small (about 12 oz) zucchini
- 5 1/2 ounces snow peas or sugar snap peas
- 1 small bunch (1 oz) cilantro leaves picked
Make the vinaigrette
- In a large bowl, whisk together the orange and lemon juices, oil, and vinegar together. Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust the amount of orange and/or lemon juice if desired.
Make the salad
- Using a sharp knife, a handheld slicer, or a mandoline, trim the ends and stems from the fennel, reserving the feathery fronds. Thinly slice the fennel bulb. Toss the sliced fennel into the dressing in the bowl and toss thoroughly. (You can cover and refrigerate the fennel for up to 6 hours.)
- Just before serving, again using a vegetable peeler, a handheld slicer, or a mandoline, thinly slice or shave the zucchini into ribbons, stopping when you reach the seeds in the core. (If your zucchini ribbons are exceptionally long, you may wish to slice them in half.) Add the zucchini to the bowl with the fennel and gently toss to coat the zucchini with the vinaigrette.
- Thinly slice the snow peas or sugar snap peas, preferably on the diagonal. Toss them into the salad.
- Scatter the cilantro leaves and a few of the minced fennel fronds atop the salad. If desired, drizzle with a little extra olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I adore recipes like this zucchini and fennel salad that highlight the freshness and natural flavors of the season’s best produce. Minimal prep, simple ingredients, elegant presentation—all of these things really bring out the natural flavors of the produce at hand. In this lovely warm weather salad, thinly sliced fennel, zucchini, and snow peas are effortlessly tossed together in a fresh vinaigrette made with citrus juice, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. The citrus flavors pair marvelously with the thinly sliced vegetables. I liked the idea of “marinating” the sliced fennel in the vinaigrette for a while—it macerated the fennel just a bit. (I left it sitting in the vinaigrette for about 1 hour in the fridge.)
For the vinaigrette, I used 1/2 a Meyer lemon, which gave me 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the juice of 1/2 an orange, which gave me 2 tablespoons. I used a crisp Prosecco vinegar. The two large fennel bulbs, when sliced, came to about 2 cups of fennel. I sliced them thinly with a vegetable peeler for an elegant look. The sliced snow peas added a great crunch to everything although I think you could sub in sugar snap peas as well. I found that the only thing I wanted to add to the finished salad was a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the vinaigrette. This salad was fresh and simply lovely; it’s a prime example of how simply slicing vegetables a certain way can transform a salad into something simply elegant and very memorable.
What a bright spring salad this zucchini and fennel salad recipe makes! Our family liked it so much we’ve made it twice this week. The orange and lemon juices make a refreshing dressing and the zucchini adds a solid base for the more delicate taste of the fennel. For me the cilantro added a freshness that finished it off perfectly. I think the only change I would make is to shred or julienne the zucchini as we found the strips to be a little awkward to eat since everything else was thin and almost shredded.
I really like fennel salads, so perhaps I’m biased, but this zucchini and fennel salad was no exception. The zucchini and snow peas made for an interesting texture variation and I loved the congruent shape of the vegetables in the salad. Once the salad was dressed and garnished, I tasted it and added more salt (I started with 1/2 teaspoon but added about 1/4 teaspoon extra) and more lemon. The vinaigrette-to-vegetable ratio, however, was a bit off for me. Maybe my fennel bulb, at 1 lb 11 oz, was jumbo-sized? I used about 1/4 cup orange juice and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Fennel in particular is easy to eat whether cut thick or thin. Don’t bother with the mandoline and just cut it! Zucchini shaved with a vegetable peeler was fine.
Originally published April 14, 2017