Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange | #24CarrotDiet

Low Carb Lunch Ideas on the Go: Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange

A Mediterranean salad is an easy, low carb side that you can whip up in minutes. This particular salad features the unique flavour of fennel, along with tangy Navel oranges and salty black olives.

This recipe is elegant enough to serve at a fancy dinner, but it’s also a great way to introduce your kids to a new vegetable. Trying juicy orange slices in a savoury dish can be a new flavour adventure. And if they love olives as much as my kids do, they’ll be happy to gobble the salad up!

Remember Mediterranean salad when you’re looking for low carb lunch ideas on the go, too! This salad can be made ahead and stored in the fridge overnight. Or if you have to go out last minute, you can throw everything together quickly before you leave home. I’ve even brought whole fennel bulbs on road trips, and cut them up for a meal on the go!

Need low carb lunch ideas on the go? This crisp, refreshing Mediterranean salad can be made ahead or thrown together in minutes before you leave the house! | #24CarrotDiet
The cold, crisp flavour of fennel blends beautifully with citrus in this easy Mediterranean salad

 

Have You Ever Tried Fennel?

Chances are, you’ve seen fennel in your grocery store. But have you ever bought some so you could try cooking with it?

This vegetable is extremely popular with the Italian community in Montreal, where I lived most of my life. But I must admit, for the longest time I never thought to buy fennel and taste it myself. Like many North Americans, I usually cooked what I was used to eating. Since fennel wasn’t a vegetable we ate when I was growing up, I never thought much about it.

I didn’t try it until a friend at university offered me some. She had brought raw fennel sticks in her lunch, so I gave them a try. They looked an awful lot like celery, but they had a licorice flavour that really surprised me. At first, I found the taste a bit overwhelming. I later discovered the flavour is milder when you cook fennel. It’s also less bold if you slice the fennel thinly and eat it with other foods. This makes it a perfect choice for salads!

Fennel can be used almost anywhere you would normally use celery. Substitute fennel for celery in your spaghetti sauce or in chicken soup. You can also saute it with Italian sausages and bell peppers. Or try roasted fennel with sweet baby carrots. It’s a very versatile vegetable!

 

 

Fennel Nutrition

Fennel is a good source of both fiber and potassium, providing 10% of your daily requirement for each in a cup of sliced vegetable. It also supplies modest amounts of magnesium, calcium, and iron. As green vegetables go, fennel is fairly low in vitamin A at only 2%. (Celery supplies 9%, by comparison.)

Fennel also supplies 14% of your vitamin C, compared to about 4% for celery. And since our Mediterranean salad also includes oranges, it’s a great vitamin C booster. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, this salad is a great choice as a side with your dinner or for a lunch on the go.

But what really surprised me when I looked at fennel nutrition is the vitamin K content. One cup of sliced fennel provides just over 68% of your day’s supply. Which means that a serving of fennel – say, in a Mediterranean salad – supplies more vitamin K than green beans, garden peas, kiwi, or avocado. It’s not way up there with broccoli, kale, and the rest of the leafy green vegetables. But it’s respectable all the same. And all of this is in a low sodium, very low fat package that supplies only 27 calories per cup!

Oranges Add Nutrients to Mediterranean Salad

The Navel oranges in this Mediterranean salad bump up its fiber and mineral counts. You may not be aware that an orange supplies roughly 6% of your day’s calcium. It also contains 6% of your vitamin A, which helps to make up for the fact that fennel is lower in that vitamin. Oranges also add a modest amount of vitamin B6 to the salad. This vitamin is important for your metabolism and adrenal functions, as well as for a healthy nervous system.

Some recipes for this type of Mediterranean salad call for blood oranges. You can substitute them for the Navel oranges if you prefer. They supply pretty much the same nutrients, but they bump up the anthocyanins. But since I’ve added red onion to my Mediterranean salad recipe, we already have that covered. And of course, there are anthocyanins in the olives too.

Easy Mediterranean Salad Recipe

Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange
5 from 3 votes
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Fennel & Orange Salad

Fennel is a crunchy vegetable with a unique licorice flavour. This classic Mediterranean salad is refreshing and loaded with vitamins. It's perfect for impressing guests at home, or for a lunch on the go!
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 160 kcal
Author Kyla Matton Osborne

Ingredients

To make the salad:

  • 1 large fennel bulb sliced thinly
  • 3 Navel oranges peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion sliced very thinly
  • 12 pitted Kalamata or other black olives cut in half lengthwise

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk vinegar, honey, and mustard together in a small bowl. 
  3. Gradually pour in the olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Pour up to half of the vinaigrette onto your Mediterranean salad and toss lightly before serving. The rest of the vinaigrette can be stored in a sealed jar or bottle in the fridge for up to 4 days.


 

More About Fennel

Want to know how to grow fennel in your garden without spending a lot of money? You can grow fennel herb from seed and regrow bulb fennel from the part of the plant you’d normally discard. Learn more!

 

 

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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users congerdesign, silviarita, and stevepb
Tabouleh photo by cyclonebill/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange
Kyla Matton Osborne
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46 thoughts on “Low Carb Lunch Ideas on the Go: Mediterranean Salad Featuring Fennel & Orange”

  1. I never tried fennel before, but this one looks so good! Definitely gonna look for fennel when I hit the grocery store this week. Nice post! Thanks!

  2. This sounds really good! Love the addition of the orange. I can’t say I’ve tried anything with fennel before but I’ve heard about how healthy it is and now that I have a recipe with it I just may have to give it a try!

    1. I was surprised too, Rachel. I usually think of leafy greens like kale for vitamin K. It’s nice to find a slightly different kind of green vegetable that supplies this important vitamin!

  3. I have never had fennel before! I should give it a try! I try to eat salads frequently, but I need to mix it up a little bit. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. I hope you will try it! I love salads of all kinds. Right now, I have a huge bag of spinach. So I’m eating lots of spinach salad with my meals. I’m looking forward to summer, when my salad options will include fennel, fresh beets, salad turnips, and more!

    1. It sure can be difficult to make a meal that’s low in carbs. But many vegetables, like fennel, are higher in fiber and low in sugars. So they’re a great place to start when you’re looking for low carb lunch ideas.

  4. Wow, I have never heard of fennel before. This was a great post, I have some new ideas on how to add some life to my salad lol. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Simply going the ingredients is taking my senses to a fresh citrusy ride! Love the combination of flavours here. Tried adding some green apples too (as I had just one left that nobody wanted to eat) which gave it a nice crunch!

    1. Green apple is wonderful with fennel! Another great ingredient to try with fennel is beets. You can slice raw beets very thinly and make a wonderful honey balsamic vinaigrette to go with the beets and fennel. Or, try fennel with roasted or pickled beets in a salad 🙂

  6. I’m always looking for new ways to spice up salads so I loved your suggestions! I’ve had fennel before (usually in Italian sausage) but haven’t cooked with it.

    1. We eat a lot of Italian sausage in our house. I love the fennel seeds in the sausage. And I do also add bulb fennel to a dish that includes sausage. It’s a wonderful pairing! I hope you’ll try the Mediterranean salad too 🙂

  7. I’ve never tried using fresh fennel, but I love using fennel seeds in my Italian meals. I love the flavor it gives to the dishes.

    1. I use a lot of fennel seed in my recipes too, Julie. I love it in things like spaghetti sauce. But the bulb type fennel is really delicious too. And you can use the fronds in place of fennel seed. Some folks also like to use the fronds for making pesto, instead of basil.
      The really great news is that you can grow both herb fennel (for the fresh greenery or the seeds) and bulb fennel at almost no cost. Learn more here on 24 Carrot Diet!

  8. This sounds so good! I don’t think I’ve had fennel before. Sounds very interesting. I’m not a salad person so I’m trying to make them more festive so I’d enjoy them more.

    1. I love the simplicity of Mediterranean salads. If you’re not really a salad person, you might want to try recipes like this one that switch things up a bit. Fennel instead of greens might appeal more to your palate 🙂

  9. I’ve actually never tried eating fennel, but I’m always up to try new things. My daughter started a low carb diet, so maybe we can try this together 🙂

  10. My mum is Italian so I grew up eating a lot of fennel (I love it!). I don’t remember her making me anything with a fennel/orange combination, though. Probably because I hated salads as a kid haha. My tastes have evolved as an adult and this sounds so good! I’ll definitely have to give it a try. 🙂 x

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