This Arugula Fennel Salad is a bright and zesty addition to any fall or winter table! Peppery arugula leaves are coated in a citrus dressing and then topped with chopped dates, orange wedges, sliced fennel, and tangy feta (vegan as needed). Ready in 10 minutes!
This salad was inspired by one we recently had at Siamo Napoli, a popular Italian restaurant in my area. We had it alongside pizza the other night and I just loved the contrast in flavors and textures between bitter arugula, juicy oranges, crispy fennel, and sweet & chewy dates. Somehow, all of these elements are perfect complements so I knew I had to try recreating this dish at home. I really think this citrus dressing is versatile and not dissimilar to the dressing used in the quinoa salad from this Quinoa Stuffed Honeynut Squash.
Furthermore, I think this salad is a perfect addition to any “heavy” holiday meals that can sometimes lack much zest or brightness.
What makes up this Arugula Fennel Salad?
You’ll need a few key ingredients for this one-of-a-kind winter salad. Those include:
Arugula: A leafy green that is part of the cabbage family, arugula is known for it’s signature “peppery” flavor.
Fennel: This perennial herb ingredient is related to parsley and carrots and grows a white bulb with long stalks with fronds. It is known for tasting like anise, or licorice.
Oranges and Lemons: Used both in the dressing and as a topping, navel oranges and fresh lemons help make up the bulk of the flavor in this dish.
Dates: Either Medjool or Deglet dates will work in this dish, as they serve an important role of providing a pop of sweetness.
Detailed Ingredients Needed
For citrus dressing:
- 6 TBS olive oil
- 3 TBS orange, grapefruit, or lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 5 cups arugula
- 1/4 head of fennel, white bulb sliced thinly
- 1 navel orange, peeled and segmented
- 4 Medjool or 6 Deglet nour dates, chopped
- 2 TBS feta cheese (vegan as needed), optional
How to Make an All-Purpose Citrus Dressing
Whisk together the 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil, 3 TBS citrus juice, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp maple syrup. Combining in a jar is useful as once the lid is added, it can be shaken to full emulsify.
Tips for Preparing Fennel
Fennel has a very strong flavor that not everyone loves. One preparation tip that I love is to slice it very thinly, so that it easily blends in with the rest of the salad. Fennel is very crisp when raw and provides a nice textural contrast to softer ingredients like oranges and arugula leaves. Dressing will help soften it slightly as well.
If you have a box grater, grating the fennel into the salad can be another easy way to easily prepare.
What does it mean to supreme an orange? How do you do this?
To supreme an orange means to segment it into small wedges without pith or skin attached. Orange supremes look very elegant in a salad and are easy to eat. To do this,
1. Wash and dry orange, then slice off top 1/4 inch at each pole. This will create a stable base.
2. Using a short (ideally curved) knife, begin at the top and cut the skin off of the orange at an angle, rotating your wrist so that you follow the edge of the fruit. Try to remove as much skin and pith as possible without removing excess fruit. Continue around the entire fruit, removing skin one strip at a time.
3. Once all skin is removed, hold the knife parallel to your torso and slice out each individual wedge from inside the thin membrane. You will leave this membrane behind. Remove each orange segment from the membrane and set aside for use. Click here for a helpful video on how to do this.
How to Make this Arugula Fennel Salad Recipe
1. Once you make the dressing as outlined above (whisking all ingredients), wash and dry all produce.
2. To a large serving platter, add arugula and fennel slices. Drizzle dressing over top of leaves, stirring to combine. You may not need to use all of it, so add to your personal preference.
3. Top salad with orange wedges and sprinkle dates across. Add feta if using. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve. This salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but I recommend dressing right before serving to prevent wilting.
Can this be made in advance?
Yes, but do not add the dressing until just before serving. This will help prevent wilting in the greens.
I hope you love this wintery salad! Please feel free to leave a comment if you give it a try.