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!
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 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
Fennel & Orange Salad
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
- 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
Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Whisk vinegar, honey, and mustard together in a small bowl.
Gradually pour in the olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
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
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