Spinach, Fennel, and Asparagus Salad
A refreshing spring salad that’s best when made with fresh ingredients.
Adapted from “A Year in My Kitchen” by Skye Gyngell.
- 5 ounces young, tender spinach leaves
- 1 fennel bulb (see directions for prep)
- 6 asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off (see directions for prep)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
- Juice of ½ lemon
Wash the spinach thoroughly in several charges of cold water. Place in a large pan with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing and cook over high heat until just wilted. This takes very little time — no longer than a minute — don’t overcook it. Drain the spinach and set aside to cool.
To prepare the fennel, slice off the base and remove the fibrous outer leaves, then cut the bulb in half lengthwise. Place each half, cut side down, on a cutting board and cut lengthwise into fine shards, using a sharp knife—the slices should be almost paper-thin.
Using a sharp knife, slice the spears finely lengthwise. (Shaved raw asparagus has an interesting texture and excellent taste.)
Squeeze out as much moisture from the cooled spinach as possible (but don’t be so brutal that you bruise the leaves). Put the spinach into a large bowl and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and toss through with your hands — the spinach will absorb the oil and take on a luxurious, glossy quality.
Add the fennel shards, asparagus, lemon zest, Parmesan, and lemon juice. Toss very gently with your fingertips — you want to create a feeling of space and air. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed. Pile the salad onto plates and serve.
Spinach, Fennel, and Asparagus Salad Recipe - Recipes
Here’s the thing: I don’t like asparagus. Here’s the other thing: I love this Asparagus and Fennel Salad recipe. The secret: my mandoline.
This salad is piled high with paper thin slices of asparagus, fennel, and red onion that mitigate the intense flavor of each veggie, making it easier for the flavors to mingle and create a well-balanced combined flavor.
Plus, thanks to the Japanese vegetable slicer, this salad is easy to make.
When I have my Everyday Vinaigrette on hand, I use that to dress this salad, but it’s honestly best with an even simpler dressing that you can make on the spot (see recipe). It’s also great tossed with cubed Fontina cheese.
And in the fall, when apples are abundant, I add thinly shaved apple as well. Delicious.
Asparagus and Fennel Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 12 stalks), washed, not trimmed
2 small or 1 med bulb fennel
1/2 medium red onion
Place the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice in a jar with a lid. Seal and shake set dressing aside.
Holding the back end of the asparagus spear, run a vegetable peeler from just above your fingers to the tip, moving away from your body and rotating, until the entire spear has been shaved into thin slices. Add to a serving bowl.
Trim the bottom and outer leaves of the fennel bulb(s). Cut bulb(s) in half through the root, and use a mandolin or sharp knife to cut into very thin slices. Do the same with the red onion. Add both to the serving bowl with asparagus.
Toss vegetables with dressing and season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Asparagus, Fennel & Spinach Soup + Topping!
In our house, soup is rarely served without some kind of topping. It’s almost like a yin and yang thing, we start talking about soup and the conversation automatically moves on to topping suggestions. I guess it’s a pretty natural thing since we eat a lot of soup and prefer it to be a more complete meal, instead of just a starter. The toppings does not only add a different texture and flavor to the soup, but also some more stomach filling proteins. To be honest, I think we spend more time working on the toppings then on the actual soup on most occasions. It’s the same principle as we have with oatmeal toppings. They are just essential.
We found a huge bunch over-priced asparagus in the market the other day and for some reason decided that it was a good idea to spend our last money this month on asparagus instead of a new set of clothes for Isac. So we walked home and made soup. We went for a smooth and quite mildly flavored soup and allowed the toppings to have more punch in flavor and texture. We only chose green-ish ingredients for the topping. Yup, there we go again, choosing ingredients by color. But it actually turned out fantastic. It’s got a lot of crunch from the pumpkin seeds, flavor from parsley and the asparagus tips, richness from the lentils and sting from the chili. I ate the leftovers without the soup straight from the fridge. I’ve spent most of this post talking about the topping, but the soup is pretty good too. Quick, simple, delicious and with a clear taste of spring. If you don’t have any fennel at home, you could add a few potatoes instead, or other spring vegetables of choice.
We also made a quick cashew cream to go with the soup. We often just add a few dollops yogurt into our soup but cashew cream is a nice and rich vegan alternative. If you just remember to pre-soak the cashew nuts, the cream is done in no-time. As a side note, I just tried adding some cashew cream on top of my latest smoothie and it wasn’t bad at all.
So, go make your vegetable market guy happy and buy a bunch of asparagus. Make soup, whip up a cashew cream. And for goodness sake, don’t forget about the topping!
Asparagus, Fennel & Spinach Soup (Vegan)
Makes 4 smaller servings or 2 very large
We keep a jar of toasted pumpkin seeds in our kitchen and almost always have some cooked lentils ready in our fridge. It’s a good tip as it makes it a lot easier to create small quick meals like this.
1 pound / 450 g green asparagus
2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
6 thin spring onions or 1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small fennel bulb (or 1/2 large)
1 large handful spinach
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon
salt & black pepper
Lentil & Pepita Topping
The reserved raw tips from the asparagus
1 cup cooked puy lentils (1/2 cup uncooked, boiled in water for 18 minutes)
1/2 cup dry-toasted and salted pumpkin seeds / pepitas
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 green chili, finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup filtered water
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
Trim the tough end off the asparagus. Cut in diagonal pieces, 1/2 inch / 1 cm thick. Save the asparagus tips for the topping. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Finely chop onion, garlic and fennel and add to the the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the asparagus, stir around and let fry on low/medium heat for a minute, then add spinach, water/stock, apple cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Carefully pour the soup into a blender or use a hand blender to mix until smooth. Taste the soup, add more water or salt and pepper if needed.
Preparing the topping: Finely chop the asparagus tips and the parsley and place in a bowl together with the boiled lentils and the toasted pumpkin seeds. Add chili if your prefer it a little spicy. Pour over some olive oil and stir around until it’s all mixed well.
Preparing the cashew cream: Cover the cashew nuts in water and let soak for at least 3 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse and place them in a blender. Add the filtered water, lemon juice and salt and mix until completely smooth. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. Or water if you prefer it runnier.
Serve the soup with a generous portion of lentil topping on top and a few drizzles of cashew cream or yogurt. Enjoy!
PS. If you want some more inspiration on what to do with asparagus, check out this Spring Buckwheat Salad from last year and this Grilled Asparagus with Quinoa from two years ago.
This was wonderful. I grew a fantastic crop of fresh lettuce this spring and wanted a nice showcase salad for it. This filled the bill. I followed the advice of other reviewers and broiled the asparagus, also amped up the dressing a bit with two tablespoons of orange juice and another tablespoon of mustard. Once those flavors melded, everything was great. Took this to a church lunch, and everyone raved. It was perfect for my fresh, tender lettuce. I look forward to making it again.
Oops! I wrote the review for the wrong salad. Check out the orange, fennel and mustard green recipe. Sorry for the error.
I hesitated in preparing this salad as the mustard greens seemed rather leathery. Several confers suggested adding other greens. No, I decided to go ahead and follow the recipe EXACTLY. Eight guests, three being chefs, agreed that this is a stand out salad. The peppery taste of the mustard greens, with the hallmark flavor of the fennel, paired with juicy rounds of oranges were sublime. No tinkering on this salad. It is delicious.
Good, but not great. It was rather bland and I think goat cheese would be helpful.
Delicious! The teenagers loved it!
I bought cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for this recipe and realized it turned the dressing bitter. Unfortunately, I had to toss the first batch. Next time, I will use canola oil for this recipe so it won't conflict with the oranges. I also roasted the asparagus as suggested by another reviewer, but would definitely steam or blanche next time and serve cold. The roasting took the bright flavor away from the asparagus and really didn't go with the fresh oranges.
I made this for Easter and it was good and beautiful. I used the Mache lettuce. Based on other reviews I diluted about 1T brown sugar into some orange juice and added this to the dressing. I halved this recipe for 4 adults.
Very tasty with the Easter dinner, grilled the asparagus, both green and white, and added radishes and cucumber sliced very thin
Dressing was great and with Balsamic vinegar, you can easily cut the olive oil down without damaging the flavors. Used 1T brown sugar, 1 t. orange j. concentrate instead of squeezing the oranges, and used fresh orange slices in the salad. Broiled asparagus instead with some olive oil spray and balsamic vinegar--SO much better than just blanched. Good with addition of feta, chevre or blue cheese and black olives.
Really liked this salad, but I found the dressing needed to be sweetened up a bit. Added a tsp of dark balsamic and a couple of tsps of orange juice. Yummy
This salad was good, but not great. There are better.
I made this for Easter sunday and it was delicous. Making it again tonight and adding grilled chicken for a main course
I've never used fennel in a salad before, but it was perfect in this. I was confused about the oranges. Was I supposed to squeeze or just peel? No leftovers with this one, everyone enjoyed it.
For Easter, try substituting blood oranges.
I've made this recipe several times and each time it's gone in minutes! I marinate the vegetables in the dressing the day ahead, and then just toss with baby greens just before serving. delicious!
I made this for easter--it was perfect, no left-overs. i was worried about the fennel, not quite sure how best to cut it to have the right texture, but it blended in with the other flavors. The oranges were a bit time-consuming, but i liked their freshness as opposed to mandarin oranges-would only do this for easter though. Oh, i added some toasted sesame oil to the dressing and didn't need to add any salt to the dressing. Served it with leg of lamb, scalloped potatoes and spinach souffle.
I made this salad for Easter Dinner. It was good but not spectacular. The asparagus was a winning ingredient but I think it could use more orange zest. I substituted green onions for the chives.
This is an interesting, different salad that's very tasty and very easy to make. I used Boston lettuce and thought it went well with the other ingredients. The dressing is nice, and the orange zest makes it different. You can play with it to make it more mustardy or peppery or orangey as you prefer (though I enjoyed it just as indicated in the recipe). It's a perfect salad for a spring dinner or a brunch. By the way, for inexperienced cooks like me: fennel is often labelled as "anise" in grocery store produce sections.
Appetizer Recipes: Citrus Dressing over Spinach, Asparagus and Fennel Salad
This quick and healthy salad recipe is full of texture and balanced flavor. The buttery flavor and wonderful crunch of asparagus, the subtle bitterness and suppleness of spinach, the minty and aromatic flavor or fennel, and juicy sweet tomatoes combined with a citrus dressing make a simple but memorable salad perfect for the summer. You can serve this healthy meal as appetizer recipes or as a side dish to fish or chicken. It is also excellent with grilled seafood dishes.
For a light and nutritious healthy dinner meal, you can add pieces of grilled fish to the mix and toss well. For additional crunch and texture, blend in pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, or almonds. If you want a bit of sweetness, consider adding fresh or dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, pears, apples, orange wedges, mangoes, or grapes all of which go well with the asparagus, spinach, fennel, and tomatoes. For a more Mediterranean flavor, you can add olives and capers.
Ingredients: 8 oz. Baby Spinach, 1 large ripe Tomato, cut into 8 equal pieces, 1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and sliced, 1 large Orange, juiced, 1 tablespoon Harris Teeter Red Wine Vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt, 1/4 freshly ground Black Pepper, 2 tablespoons H.T. Traders Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Place asparagus in a pot of boiling water over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until asparagus is tender. Drain, and place in a bowl of ice-cold water for 5 minutes, and drain again. Place spinach in a large serving bowl or platter. Combine asparagus, spinach, tomato, and fennel in a medium bowl. Whisk together orange juice and red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in salt and pepper and olive oil until combined. Pour dressing over asparagus mixture and spoon over spinach. Toss gently to combine.
The asparagus need to be cooked before added to the other ingredients. You don’t need to cook the spinach since it can be eaten raw and is delicious as long as you use baby spinach, which have tender leaves and a mild flavor. The asparagus should be cooked al dente and should still be crunchy to the bite with a bright green color. If you are using larger asparagus, you can trim off the hard and stringy edges by snapping it off or slicing it with a knife. The asparagus will cook in about five to eight minutes, but check to make sure they do not overcook. Soggy asparagus is not pleasant to eat. Make sure to dunk the asparagus in ice cold water right after cooking to keep their crunchy texture and beautiful color. Drain them well before adding in with the other ingredients.
Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon
Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, coat the bacon with the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Arrange the bacon in an even layer on a parchment paper&ndashlined baking sheet. Top with another piece of parchment paper and another large baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the bacon is lightly browned and the fat is rendered. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment paper. Bake the bacon for about 15 minutes longer, until well browned and nearly crisp. Using tongs, transfer the bacon to a rack to cool and crisp, then coarsely chop.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the fennel and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a large serving bowl, whisk the mustard with the lemon juice and vinegar. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup of oil until emulsified. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Add the fennel, spinach and basil to the bowl and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Sprinkle the feta and candied bacon on top and serve right away.
Asparagus, Spinach and Fennel Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing
This salad brims with freshness and snap. If you can't find fennel, use Belgian endive instead. To turn this into a more substantial dish, drape smoked salmon or prosciutto over the finished salad or add slices of slivered parmigiano Reggiano or Spanish Manchego cheese. The Tarragon Dressing is my all-time favourite. I like the creaminess as well as the spring-like, licorice taste.
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed
8 oz (250 g) asparagus, trimmed
6 cups (1.5 L) packed baby spinach
Creamy Tarragon Dressing
2 tbsp (25 mL) mayonnaise
2 tbsp (25 mL) white wine vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh tarragon or ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried
¼ tsp (1 mL) finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup (75 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cut fennel in half and remove core. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice fennel thinly. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and boil for 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and refresh under cold water until cold. Drain and pat dry. Cut stalks into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces.
3. Combine asparagus and spinach in a bowl.
4. Prepare dressing by whisking mayonnaise, vinegar, tarragon and garlic in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
5. Pat fennel dry and add to asparagus. Toss salad with dressing.
A mandolin is a hand-held kitchen tool that can slice, shred, julienne and waffle-cut vegetables or fruit. Different blades can be attached and adjusted for thickness.
The French make fine chef-quality mandolins, but the Japanese versions are also excellent and much less expensive.
Osteria Illaria's grilled fennel and asparagus salad
"Fennel's flavour changes dramatically as you grill it, and it gives it more depth," says Andreas Papadakis.
- 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, sliced lengthways (about 4mm thick), fronds reserved
- 3 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
- 120 gm podded broad beans (from about 500gm unpodded)
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp honey
- 150 ml olive oil
Drink Suggestion: 2016 Tenuta Terre Nere "Etna Bianco", Sicily. This wine, from the northern slopes of Mount Etna, is a blend of local varieties, the dominant grape being carricante. It's a pure expression of terroir, with white flowers, scorched lemon, high acid and a salty-savoury palate reminiscent of a great Chablis. Drink suggestion by Luke Skidmore
Chargrilled asparagus and fennel salad
This delicious summer salad with grilled asparagus, fresh fennel, Parma ham and a crunch of almonds can be prepped in advance, then once the griddle is hot it won't take long at all - perfect for entertaining.
Published: December 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm
- asparagus 2 bunches, trimmed
- fennel 3 small heads, trimmed and thinly sliced through the root
- olive oil
- sherry vinegar 2 tbsp
- Dijon mustard 1 tsp
- quails eggs 12, peeled and halved
- marcona or regular almonds 100g, roughly chopped
- wild rocket 2 handfuls
- caper berries 8
- Parma ham or Serrano ham 8 slices (optional)
- flat leaf parsley a handful, chopped
- ciabatta 1 sliced and toasted, to serve
Toss the asparagus and fennel in 2 tbsp of olive oil and season. Heat a ridged griddle pan and cook the vegetables on both sides until tender.
Using a mandoline, make long thin ribbon slices of the asparagus and place in a large bowl. Slice the fennel bulb also and add to the asparagus, mix lightly. This can be done ahead of time, covered and refrigerated until ready for use.
Make the vinaigrette by blending the oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. This can also be made ahead of time, covered and refrigerated until ready for use.
At serving time, add the vinaigrette to the asparagus-fennel mixture, toss lightly and add pepper to taste.
Divide the salad between individual plates and add a lacy frond for garnish and serve.