Avocado Fennel Citrus Salad with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette
This easy Fennel Citrus Salad is loaded with buttery avocados, beautiful citrus fruit, all on a bed of peppery arugula topped with briny feta or creamy burrata cheese. Drizzle it with my sweet onion vinaigrette, it’s the perfect winter salad!
This is one COLORFUL salad.
Fennel citrus salad with buttery avocados, tangy feta, and a sweet onion vinaigrette is just about the best thing I’ve tasted this year. The sweet onion dressing adds a nice complexity to the dish.
I first had this salad on my birthday last year. Albeit, it was a leaf-less version of the salad with wedges of avocado, segmented citrus fruit, and dripping, generous portions of creamy burrata cheese, finished with the vinaigrette, a delicate drizzle of Meyer lemon infused olive oil, and a few fennel fronds. If it sounds heavenly, let me assure you, it was.
To make a homemade version, We’ll shave the fennel bulb on a mandolin, segment the fresh grapefruit, blood oranges, cara cara oranges, and navel orange. Then load it all on a bed of peppery arugula.
If you’re interested in that dressing, let me tell you all about it. It’s your typically vinaigrette ingredients, like, olive oil, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and we’ll add a minced sweet vidalia onion to the mix. Blend it all up and what you’re left with it the most delicious dressing that pairs beautifully with the ingredients in the fennel citrus salad.
Ingredients for Fennel Citrus Salad
- Fennel Bulb: We’ll slice through the fennel bulb and slice it thinly on a mandolin. I like to hold on to some of the fennel fronds so that you can use it as a garnish on the salad.
- Avocados: We’ll slice up the avocados and top them on the salad at the end. Make sure to get slightly ripe avocados so that they are buttery yet still a bit firm.
- Citrus fruit: You can use any citrus that you like for this recipe. Pomelo, melogold, clementines, tangerines, grapefruit, navel, cara cara oranges, and blood oranges are all great options. Just be sure to remove the peel and segment the fruit with a paring knife, taking care to remove all of the white pith. The flesh is all you need for the salad! The white pith will make the salad bitter, so make sure you don’t leave much of it on the fruit.
- Arugula or Spring Mix: I like to use peppery arugula for the base of this salad. Of course, you could serve this salad like the restaurant I had it at and forgo the base all together. But I do like what arugula brings to the plate here. Baby kale would make decent substitute if you didn’t have arugula or spring mix on hand. You could also add in a handful of fresh mint leaves. I love what mint does to citrus fruit!
- Cheese: The restaurant I had this at used burrata cheese, and though I loved how that turned out, I’ll be honest, I don’t typically keep balls of burrata at home. For this reason, I like using feta cheese crumbles instead. It’s a staple in my refrigerator and it’s something more cooks are likely to have in their fridge too. Goat cheese would work well also.
- Olive Oil: You’ll need olive oil for the dressing. Extra virgin olive oil would work best since we aren’t cooking the dressing.
- Dijon mustard: Mustard plays a very critical role in a vinaigrette. It is essentially the emulsifier that allows the oil and vinegar ingredients to mix together and remain in harmony.
- White Wine Vinegar: You can also use champagne vinegar if you’d like.
- Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed works best here!
- Honey or Sugar: This is the ingredient that adds sweetness to the vinaigrette. I like to use honey, but sugar, agave or maple work too! We add this ingredient to bring out the natural sweetness of the vidalia onion.
- Sweet Onion: You’ll need a couple tablespoons of minced onion for this. Make sure to use a sweet onion so that it isn’t as harsh in the dressing.
How to Make Avocado Fennel Citrus Salad
- Segment the fruit. For me, this is the part that takes the longest. I like to put on a podcast, listen to music, or watch a show in the background while I do this. Start by grabbing a cutting board. Cut off both ends of an orange/grapefruit. Using a pairing knife, carefully slice down the citrus fruit, taking care to remove as much of the white pith as you can. Once the pith is removed, slice the fruit flesh as close to the white segment as you can, then do the same thing on the other side and gently coddle the segment out of the center. I find the first one to be the hardest! Then repeat with the remaining fruit. Place the fruit segments on a plate or platter. This is the part that makes the prep time a little lengthy! But I promise, it’s worth it!
- Make the dressing. Add the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and blend until smooth. Make sure to season with salt and black pepper. Alternately, you can make the dressing in a jar. Cover and shake it with a lid. You can also make it in a bowl with a whisk. I do find that the flavor of the onion is less pronounced when you don’t blend it and you get minced onion in bites rather than a smooth sauce. Using a lettuce leaf, dip it in the dressing and taste to check and make sure it’s seasoned to your liking.
- Arrange the greens. Place your choice of greens on your favorite platter or wide serving bowl.
- Dress the salad and serve. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. If you want to use burrata I like to toss the salad, then top it with burrata right before serving. You can also drizzle it with your favorite lemon olive oil to finish if you like. Top with a some freshly cracked pepper and a few fennel fronds for a little added color!
FAQs about this recipe:
The easiest way to shave fennel is to slice off the top portion (where the fronds are) and then use a mandolin to make thin slices. Be sure to use the guard to slice the fennel!
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Sweet Peach Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Crunchy Asparagus Orzo Salad with Lemon Shallot Dressing
- Sweet and Tangy Thai Mango Salad
- Winter Crisp Pear and Walnut Salad with Gorgonzola
- Refreshing Cucumber Melon Salad
- ½ Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 avocados, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 large grapefruit, peeled and segmented
- 2 cara cara oranges, peeled and segmented
- 1 navel orange or melogold grapefruit or pomelo, segmented
- 4-5 ounces arugula or spring mix, or baby kale
- 1 (8-ounce) package burrata (or 4-ounces) crumbled feta, optional
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons honey or granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced sweet onion
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- DRESSING: Add the ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend until smooth. Alternately, you can also shake the ingredients in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid, but I do like the onions blended up for this recipe. Taste and the vinaigrette and adjust with more salt, pepper, or honey as desired.
- GREENS: Place the greens on a large platter or a wide serving bowl.
- ARRANGE: Arrange the sliced fennel, avocado slices, and the peeled and segmented fruit over the greens.
- DRESS AND SERVE: Drizzle half of the prepared vinaigrette over the salad. If you wanted to use burrata, break the burrata ball into several pieces and scatter it over the dressed salad. And drizzle more dressing over the burrata or feta as desired. You can also add a drizzle of lemon olive oil if you’d like.