Spring Fennel Salad with Tangelo, Radish, Carrots, and Parsley

Salad with Fennel, Radish, Carrots, Parsley, and Tangelo
It is undeniably Spring, the sunshine is brighter, the birds are more cheerful, and plants are starting to blossom. This is a time of year to breathe a sigh of relief and let the natural beauty of our surroundings overtake our dreary winter minds. Spring is when the nature cycle focuses on birth and renewal, in terms of food sources this generally means plentiful young greens. These greens include popular salad greens such as arugula, lettuces, baby chard, and more exotic options like dandelion greens and ramps. Salad's are an excellent way to highlight the freshness of what is available in spring.

Exploiting seasonal food sources is one thing, but capturing a season's flavor and its emotion is a whole other game. In my opinion a dish which tries to encapsulate Spring should reflect the internal feelings of warmth, brightness, freshness, and crispness. A diner should not feel weighed down after a meal, rather light and content. To try to achieve this I simply wished to compose a light salad of fennel, citrus, and radish to reinforce the crisp freshness of the fennel.

Fennel is what I believe to be an under-appreciated produce item and garden vegetable in the United States. Fennel also known as anise, is a bulbed vegetable with a stalk and fronds. The stalk is fibrous like a celery stalk, and the fronds are similar to that of dill. Chemically, fennel bulbs contains two organic compounds which make them a perfect spring vegetable, if the goal is brightness and warmth. The first is anethole which is the anise flavor known in star anise, liquorish, ouzo, some varieties of basil. Fennel also contains the chemical compound limonene (Mcgee 316) which gives off the bright citrus aroma found in oranges, lemons, ect.

Continuing to build on top of the base of the fennel, the humble radish adds a dash of crisp pepper to this salad. The crisp pungent flavor comes from sulfur and nitrogen compounds(McGee 321), that the radish and other members of the mustard family/cabbage family use as chemical defenses against predators. Common red radishes are the most widely used in North America, generally raw and in salads. Radishes are not only easy to plant home gardens, but they're also easy to seed save and plant throughout a considerably lengthy growing seasons, throughout Spring and Autumn.

Finally, the brightness of the Tangelo dressing enhances both the fennel and radish by adding a bright acidity and a slight degree of sweetness. Tangelos are curious citrus fruits because they are a fairly modern hybrid, a mix of tangerines also called "Mandrin oranges" and Grapefruits. Because Tangelo's are so different they have their own class specification in the citrus family, known as Citrus X tangelo (Morton, J 158-160)

This spring salad can be enjoyed alone or as a side dish. As with most Joy and Feast recipes the components are explained to better understand their individual purpose in the dish. Once an ingredient is understood they can easily be substituted, so if Tangelo or one of the other ingredients are not available, try a similar replacement and let me know how it turns out!

Salad with Fennel, Radish, Carrots, Parsley, and Tangelo

Spring Fennel Salad with Tangelo and Radish

  • 1 Fennel bulb, shaved, fronds reserved
  • 2-4 Radish, thin sliced
  • 1 bunch Parsley, remove stems
  • 1 Carrot, peeled & julienned
Cooking Directions
  1. Soak the radishes in ice water for one hour prior to serving, this will increase the crispness of the radish. Thin slice right before serving.
  2. Thin slice the fennel bulb on a mandolin or with a sharp knife. Cut the fronds and reserve for salad garnish.
  3. Toss the sliced fennel with the finish salad dressing.
  4. Either compose dressed fennel, fennel fronds, radish slices, parsley, and carrot or toss all ingredients together and serve

Tangelo Dressing

  • 1 Tangelo, 2 t zested, 4 T juiced and strained
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 t Sugar
  • 1/2 t Kosher salt
  • 1/2 t Black pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small lidded container.
  2. Shake with the lid tightly secured, until dressing is formed.
Total Time: 15 minutes
Citations and Further Readings:
  • McGee, Harold. On food and cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen. Simon and Schuster, 2007.
  • Morton, Julia Frances. Fruits of warm climates. JF Morton, 1987.


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