In the midst of the doom and gloom of January Pittsburgh weather, I find myself clicking on just about every Groupon Getaway travel ad that features a sandy beach, swaying palm trees, and a sparkling blue-green ocean. A girl can dream, right?
Since hopping on a plane to the Caribbean this week is just slightly impractical, I can at least close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere warm and relaxing – away from the worries, and routines of everyday life. And I must say, with every bite of this Citrus Fennel Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette, pretending I’m on tropical shores is surprisingly easy! Forkfuls of juicy grapefruit and orange slices, creamy avocado, crispy radish and fennel, and peppery arugula make me feel like I’m being pampered at a beachside spa. It’s seriously one of the most refreshing, delicious, and healthy salads I’ve ever had!
So, join me in taking a break from traditional hot, heavy winter foods! Instead, pamper yourself with a “flavor vacation” by trying my six-ingredient Citrus Fennel Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette!
I know, I know. It’s hard to get really excited about a simple salad. Especially a side salad. And for me, it’s also hard to get excited about anything that contains fennel! I normally can’t stand the stuff!
But, I was desperate to find ingredients that would compliment grapefruit and oranges, since I wanted to feature citrus fruits, which are in their prime in winter. Being on the AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet means that most traditional salad toppings are a big no-no. Nuts, seeds, peppers, tomatoes, and most dried fruits (containing sugar) are out of the question.
As much of a bummer as it is to not be able to fall back on nuts and seeds for a pleasing crunch in my salad creations, it does force me to think outside the box a bit and look for atypical fruits and veggies. So, in this case, I came across fennel and radishes to give that pleasing crunch and texture to my wintery citrus salad.
Fennel is known for it’s anise flavor, which is usually a turn-off for me. And yet, raw fennel, when thinly sliced and combined with the grapefruit, oranges, and arugula in this salad, is an absolute winner here! The anise flavor is so mild that you can barely taste it, but it does add a depth of flavor to this fresh, sweet and savory salad.
If you’re new to trying fennel, just give it a good wash, then chop off the very end and the celery-like stalks. Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the fennel “heart” from each half, which is tougher and more strongly flavored. Simply slice the remaining fennel halves into thin pieces and give them another chop in half.
Give the radishes a quick rinse and slice those up, as well. The radishes won’t add much flavor, but they are super crispy and the color is beautiful alongside the greens and citrus fruits.
I also chose arugula as the base for my Citrus Fennel Salad, which has a natural herby, peppery flavor, since the use of black pepper isn’t allowed on the AIP diet.
In contrast to the crunch of the fennel and radishes and the herbaceous arugula, I chose my absolute favorite salad component: avocado. The creaminess is exactly what this salad needed, without competing with the other flavors. Plus, it gives the salad some bulk by contributing a healthy source of fat.
And finally, prepare the stars of this salad – the oranges and grapefruits. So, I learned how to segment citrus fruit to free it from the rind, seeds, and membranes. It’s much more pleasing to eat if you segment the citrus first, but if you’re short on time, you can just throw some orange and grapefruit slices on top.
To segment your citrus, first make cuts in both ends with a sharp knife. Then slice downward and around each side, cutting off both the rind and white membrane. Repeat around the entire grapefruit or orange. Finally, cut into each segment, freeing the fruit from the membrane. I’d recommend doing this over a bowl, so you can save any juice that comes out for the Grapefruit Vinaigrette.
Once all your salad components are prepped, pile everything into a large bowl and gaze at the rainbow of colors that you’ll get to enjoy. I hate to keep using the word “refreshing” to describe this salad, but it was the first word out of every family member’s mouth who tasted it! It’s just one of those salads that you could eat every day and not get sick of!
Time to finish off this beautiful salad by whisking together your Grapefruit Vinaigrette. It’s simple to make and provides a light and (dare I say) refreshing flavor that enhances everything in the salad. There’s also a hint of orange, along with dried basil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a touch of raw honey. This dressing would be lovely on any salad or try it as a marinade for fish or chicken!
Now that you know how to make my Citrus Fennel Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette, grab a salad plate and dig in! This salad makes a wonderfully elegant side dish or first course for any dinner party. Or impress your loved ones by preparing it as a colorful starter for a Valentine’s Day menu. It can also stand alone as a delicious lunch or light dinner if you top it with chicken, seafood, or steak.
However you choose to enjoy it, just be prepared – eating this salad can easily induce daydreaming of soothing spas, tranquil oceans, and faraway lands! 😉 A perfect winter escape!
- 4 cups of arugula
- 2 grapefruits
- 3 oranges, divided
- ½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 5-6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 avocados, sliced
- ½ cup reserved grapefruit juice
- ¼ cup reserved orange juice
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Segment the two grapefruits over a bowl but cutting off top and bottom of fruits and slicing down the sides, removing the outer rind and white membranes. Slice out each grapefruit segment and set aside. Squeeze out any extra juice from the remaining rind and membranes. Reserve juice for salad dressing.
- Segment two oranges next. The orange rinds and pulp won't yield as much juice as the grapefruits, so use a 3rd orange for juicing for your salad dressing.
- Slice fennel by cutting of top and bottom, removing the "heart" and thinly slicing into small pieces. Slice radish and avocados.
- Layer salad ingredients in a large bowl over the arugula.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad or save to pour over individual servings.