Citrus Fennel Salad with Champagne-Lemon Vinaigrette

November 10, 2016

This bright and flavorful Citrus Fennel Salad makes a regular appearance on our fall and winter menu plan. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or your next holiday party! 

Crunchy fennel, sweet Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette in this Citrus Fennel Salad. Vegan and gluten-free.

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This Citrus Fennel Salad has been my go-to side salad for dinners for the past couple of winters and it’s about time I shared it with you! It’s made an appearance in numerous Menu Plan Mondays and has been adapted various times based on what else is in my fridge that I want to use up or am just in the mood to add.

Overall, the base of it stays the same with three to four main ingredients and a bright, acidic dressing to match. The base of the salad consists of arugula, thinly sliced crisp fennel, and sweet and juicy Cara Cara oranges. Sometimes, as seen in the pictures here, I add sliced avocado. Other times this salad may have beets, pomegranate seeds, or toasted almonds.

If I’m having this salad for lunch, or dinner isn’t protein-heavy, I will likely top the salad with some crumbled goat cheese. That’s part of the fun of this citrus fennel salad – you can adapt it to what suits you, your palate, and the ingredients you have on hand.

{Pssst…think this salad looks familiar? You may remember my summer version – this Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel, Toasted Almonds, and Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette!}

Crunchy fennel, sweet Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette in this Citrus Fennel Salad. Vegan and gluten-free.

Ingredients & Preparation

In case you’re not familiar with Cara Cara oranges, they are a type of naval orange with a pinkish-orange flesh. They’re a little sweeter and less acidic than regular naval oranges, but the real reason I choose them over classic oranges is for their beauty. I mean how pretty is this salad?! It’s exactly what you need to brighten up the dark days of winter coming our way.

Starting around December and throughout the winter through early spring I find bags of Cara Cara oranges at Trader Joe’s, where I also buy my fennel bulbs (they come two to a box), a bag of arugula, and a bag of avocados. I also get my crumbled goat cheese there if that’s something you want to add. It really is a one-stop shop for this recipe!

I wasn’t always a fan of fennel due to its flavor, which is similar to licorice and anise, but as I have gotten older and my tastes have changed, I have become a fan. Fennel bulb has a crisp and crunchy texture that makes it perfect for adding raw to salads but also holds up well when roasting in the oven.

The latter is another way I enjoy fennel as roasting brings out the sweetness of the vegetable as it caramelizes. You can try fennel in its roasted form in my Roasted Chicken with Fennel, Carrots, and Dried Plums.

Crunchy fennel, sweet Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette in this Citrus Fennel Salad. Vegan and gluten-free.

When added to salads, I like to slice the fennel really thin, which is best achieved using a mandoline. If you’ve never cooked with fennel before, here’s a great tutorial from The Kitchn for how to cut fennel.

To prepare the oranges for the salad, I just peel them and slice them crosswise into rounds. Sometimes I break the rounds into segments, but if you’re serving this on a platter, I suggest keeping them intact for vanity reasons! (And by the way, if you can’t find Cara Cara oranges, use traditional naval oranges instead.)

Just as the ingredients of the salad can be tweaked to your liking, so too can the dressing. My go-to vinaigrette for this salad includes Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

If red wine vinegar is what you have on hand, go for it – I’ve made it that way and it works just as well. If you prefer honey over maple syrup, make the swap. No lemon juice? Squeeze one of those oranges and use orange juice instead. You see, it’s all really malleable.

One last word about this Citrus Fennel Salad before we get to the actual recipe – just as the ingredients can be changed up, so can the quantities. I only give specific measurements here to help you form the basic recipe, but feel free to tweak them as you see fit. The truth is I never measure out the ingredients of the actual salad – I just eyeball it based on how many people I’m serving. The salad dressing I am more precise with, but I often have leftover since I find a little goes a long way.

Now let’s eat!

Crunchy fennel, sweet Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette in this Citrus Fennel Salad. Vegan and gluten-free.

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Crunchy fennel, sweet Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette in this Citrus Fennel Salad. Vegan and gluten-free.
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Citrus Fennel Salad with Champagne-Lemon Vinaigrette

This Citrus Fennel Salad makes a regular appearance on our winter menu plan as it's full of bright colors and flavors and packed with nutrition. Crunchy fennel, sweet and tangy Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a light Champagne-lemon vinaigrette. Perfect for a weekday lunch or dinner and pretty enough to serve company.
Course Salad
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 5
Author Jessica

Ingredients

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (can also use white wine or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Salad:

  • 6 ounces arugula
  • 2 Cara Cara naval oranges, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb (use a mandoline if you have it)
  • 1 small to medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl or mason jar with lid, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, oil, and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. In a large bowl or on a serving platter, arrange the arugula, orange slices, fennel, and avocado. Pour dressing over salad right before serving. Reserve any unused dressing in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

The dressing makes 10 tablespoons, so you may have leftover depending on how much you use or how much salad you end up making. Reserve leftover dressing in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

Crunchy fennel, sweet Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a Champagne-lemon vinaigrette in this Citrus Fennel Salad. #vegan #glutenfree #caracara #citrusrecipes #oranges #salad #wintersalad #healthyrecipes

Have you tried Cara Cara oranges?

Share with me in the comments below!
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Citrus Fennel Salad with Champagne-Lemon Vinaigrette | This bright and flavorful Citrus Fennel Salad makes a regular appearance on our winter menu plan. Crunchy fennel, sweet and tangy Cara Cara oranges, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula are tossed with a light Champagne-lemon vinaigrette. Perfect for a weekday lunch or dinner and pretty enough for your upcoming holiday party. Vegan and gluten-free. Get the recipe @jlevinsonrd.

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  1. This is such a lovely salad with bright, tangy and creamy flavors – I love it! I’ve only tried Cara Caras once – I better get some while they’re in season!

  2. This citrus salad looks insanely delicious! The champagne lemon vinaigrette sounds heavenly! So fresh + such a great salad for this time of year! Cannot wait to toss this together 🙂

  3. I love how much color pops from this salad! I wouldn’t be a true Floridian if i said I didn’t mention that i love Oranges 🙂

  4. I love Cara Cara oranges, I find them perfectly sweet and such a nice addition to salads and/ or salad dressings. Love this recipe!

  5. You had me at citrus! I eat a salad most every day of the week, so this is a great idea to change things up a bit.

  6. We’re obsessed with cara cara oranges in our house! The smell, the taste – it’s such a nice way to bring some zest to dreary winter days.

  7. This salad looks so delicious, light and just perfect for winter. I can’t wait to try it. I love citrus enhanced salads.