I've got a gem for you today: a fennel tomato salad that's as healthy as it is zesty. This isn't your everyday salad. It bursts with the crispness of fennel and sweetness of ripe tomatoes, all while a hint of preserved lemon gives it a punch that'll make your taste buds dance.
Say goodbye to the same old green salad routine and welcome our Fennel Tomato Salad instead - it’s a masterpiece! The green parsley pops, the red tomatoes dazzle, and the slivers of fennel add a feathery elegance.
You've got to give this recipe a go; trust me, you'll be hooked. Tweak it, play with it, make it truly yours.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fennel - adds a delightful crunch with subtle liquorice notes. As an alternative, you could try it with celeriac or even jicama.
- Tomatoes - offering juiciness and some much-needed sweetness. We have used a tomato medley for a pop of colour and Roma tomatoes for their firmness. You can swap these for any aromatic tomatoes that you have.
- Parsley - adds a herbal flavour and helps to tone down the tartness of the preserved lemon dressing.
- Preserved Lemon: If you don't have preserved lemon on hand, regular lemon zest can be a worthy substitute.
- The dressing - this is a tart, puckery dressing that works well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and fennel. You can always add a hint of honey and maple syrup to tone it down. A great alternative here would be our Dijon Mustard Dressing or our Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette.
Let's prepare our veggies!
Step 1 - Chop Your Fennel
Rinse the fennel bulb and cut out its hard core. Make sue you keep those aromatic fennel fronds as we are going to chop them up for the salad.
Thinly slice the fennel bulb crosswise (horizontally) either with a sharp knife or with a mandoline/v-slicer for thin slivers of fennel, its aniseed flavour really lifts the whole salad.
💡 Top Tip: If you're not planning on making the salad right away, then pop the fennel slices into a bowl of water to keep it discolouring. This little trick will help you keep your fennel fresh and beautiful until you're ready to use it in your delicious salad. Don't forget to strain and dry it before adding to your salad.
Step 2 - Slice Your Tomatoes
The tomatoes come next, a mix of miniature beauties and robust Roma, give them all a good wash and pat them dry so we don't water down the salad.
Take your mini tomatoes and cut them in half, if you use a tomato or serrated-edged knife you won't squish them.
Now, let's trim those juicy Roma tomatoes. Then, cut them in half lengthways, and then again into gorgeous half moons.
Step 3 - Prep the Parsley
Next comes the parsley, which really adds some brightness both in taste and colour.
Give it a good wash, then shake off any excess water and gently pat it dry. Next, remove the stems and roughly chop it up.
Now, don't forget to chop up those fennel fronds for the salad.
Step 4 - Assemble Your Fennel Tomato Salad
This salad is one where I just toss all the yummy ingredients and dressing into a bowl and then adjust until it's just right.
If it's too tart, I'll drizzle in some honey; if it's too dry, a splash of olive oil does the trick; and if it needs a flavour boost, I'll add more lemon or some chopped preserved lemon. You are totally in control of how it turns out.
Finally, it's time to showcase this gorgeous salad in style! We're going to arrange it in a beautiful salad bowl and platter, then pop it in the fridge until we're ready to serve.
Let's keep it chilled and fabulous until showtime!
Serving Suggestions 🍽
It’s a delightful and effortless side dish for weekday dinners, great for BBQs or simply add some protein to transform it into a satisfying main course!
- Grilled fish is my go-to. The smoky flavour complements the salad's tang.
- Or if you're feeling meaty, a roast chicken, or roasted leg of lamb do the trick. The juices mingle with the lemony dressing – sublime!
- Don't fret, it stands proud on its own as a light lunch too just add some crumbled feta, parmesan cheese or chickpeas.
Tips and Questions
What are preserved lemons and where can I find them?
- Preserved lemons are basically lemons that have been pickled in salt, their own juices, and spices, resulting in a rich, tangy flavour and a smooth texture. The pulp works great in sauces and stews, while the peel adds a fantastic zing to salads – just like the one we're making here.
- You can usually find them in the International food aisle, at Middle Eastern specialty shops, or at a good delicatessen.
- But if you can't get your hands on them or simply prefer not to use them, no worries! You can easily substitute them with two tablespoons of lemon zest for this salad.
- And guess what? You can even make your own preserved lemons with just lemons, salt, lemon juice, and some aromatics. How cool is that? If you’re up for it, definitely give our recipe a try – it’s super easy and totally worth it!
Can I make fennel and tomato salad ahead of time?
- Absolutely, this is one of those salads that really benefits from being made 1-2 hours in advance as the flavours will meld together beautifully.
- Other time-saving tips would be to cut the fennel the day before and keep it submerged in acidulated water covered in your fridge. I love preparing fennel in this way as it gives it added crunch.
- You could also make the dressing the day before and keep it in a covered container in your fridge. Just make sure you take it out well before you assemble the salad and bring it to room temperature as it will congeal slightly in the fridge. Give it a good shake before pouring over your salad.
What can I do with the leftover fennel salad?
This salad will taste even better the next day and makes a great speedy lunch with a tin of tuna.
If you want to change it up then drain the liquid add some oil and garlic and roast in a hot oven for about 30 minutes until everything has softened up.
- Stir through some pasta with freshly grated parmesan or crumbled feta.
- Or makes a great filling for an omelette or tart with grated cheese such as goat cheese or provolone.
- Wonderful filling for a wrap with shredded chicken or pulled pork.
- 1 Mandoline or V-Slicer
- 1 large fennel bulb, reserve the fronds 275gr / 9.7oz
- 1 punnet mini tomato medley 300gr / 10.6oz
- 3 large Roma tomatoes 300 gr / 10.6oz
- ¼ cup parsley leaves chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons preserved lemon peel* diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Wash the tomatoes, slice the mini tomatoes in half and trim the Roma tomatoes and cut them into half moons.
- Wash the parsley, shake and pat dry, remove the stems then chop it roughly.
- Wash and trim the fennel bulb, reserve the fronds and chop them up to use in the salad.
- Remove the core of the fennel and then thinly slice, crosswise (horizontally).
- Add everything to a large mixing bowl along with the oil, lemon juice, minced garlic and diced preserved lemon.
- Season and toss everything well to combine.
- Arrange in a salad bowl, serve and enjoy!