It’s “shoulder season” in our part of the world. We’re still getting good-quality winter produce, and just starting to see spring favorites.
So this salad celebrates late-season fennel and apples. We mix them with celery and a lemony vinaigrette, then top it off with succulent smoked salmon.
It’s the beginning of a great company meal. And maybe a beautiful food friendship.
This recipe requires only a few ingredients. But the resulting flavor is complex and well balanced. As a starter, it provides just the right amount of sharpness and texture to whet your appetite for the main course.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Assembly time adds another 5 minutes.
This recipe yields 4 first-course servings.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- a few pinches of kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- a few grinds of black pepper (to taste)
- 2 small fennel bulbs, quartered, cored, and sliced thinly (see Notes)
- 2 to 3 ribs celery, cut into slices of about ¼ inch
- 1 (or 2, if you prefer) apples, cored and sliced thinly
- 4 to 6 ounces smoked salmon slices
- lemon slices for garnish (very optional)
- First, make the vinaigrette: In a small lidded container, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then set aside. (You can prepare the vinaigrette several hours ahead and store it in the refrigerator if you wish).
- Add the sliced fennel, celery, and apples to a mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add the vinaigrette and toss again to combine.
- Distribute the mixture on serving plates. Top each plate with a slice or two of smoked salmon. Add slices of lemon for garnish if you wish. Serve and enjoy.
- Exact measurements are not critical for this recipe. So adjust to your own taste.
- We sometimes add a couple tablespoons of minced parsley to the salad for extra flavor (add it in Step 2).
- Instead of smoked salmon, you could use smoked trout.
- If you want to go vegan, substitute about ½ to 1 cup toasted nuts for the salmon (walnuts work particularly well).
- We sometimes add a few green fennel fronds for garnish instead using lemon slices. More often, we leave the garnish off altogether – the smoked salmon adds enough visual interest.
- Sliced fennel and apples can discolor if prepared too far in advance. So we usually slice them immediately before making the salad, or within half an hour of doing so.
- If you want to prepare the fennel and apples ahead of time, you can sprinkle some lemon juice on the slices to avoid browning. If you go this route, you may want to add a bit more olive oil to the vinaigrette (to keep the flavors in balance).
- We like to use flavorful Honeycrisp apples in this dish. Golden Delicious apples are also a good choice (their flavor is nothing like that of the rather insipid Red Delicious). A bonus with Golden Delicious apples is that, when sliced, they don’t discolor as quickly as some other varieties. But use whatever type of apple you like.
- Cutting the slices of the fennel and apple on the thinner side makes for a better dish. A mandoline is the perfect tool for this. But we usually don’t bother with it, and just use a knife instead – one less thing to wash up.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Yum, my kind of apple a day,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Glad you got around to making this.”
“Apple-solutely,” I said. “I finally crossed the fennel-ish line.”
“Am I supposed to celery-brate that line?” said Mrs K R.
“Thought you would apple-laud my effort,” I said.
“Maybe you should leave the jokes to salmon else,” said Mrs K R.
Guess that will stop me from fishing for compliments.
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Fresh, crunch and smoky...this is definitely a salad that I would LOVE!
Hi Angie, it's a good, good salad. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds beautifully refreshing—crunchy and bright with a nice complexity. And Marion loves smoked salmon and is always trying to find other ways to use it. Thanks for the recipe, John!
Hi Terry, Marion will LOVE this! You will too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Great combination of flavors! I haven't used fennel lately, should get some.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, fennel is wonderful! And we don't use it nearly enough. Its flavor really makes this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Healthy & tasty combination of flavors and textures. Yum.
Hi Pam, definitely yum. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love fennel and your salad looks great , just perfect for a light meal.
Hi Gerlinde, this recipe actually makes a nice main course salad for 2 or 3. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a great salad with lots of crunch and flavor!
Hi Laura, we do like crunch. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum! I love the crunch of the fennel and apple in this salad! Fennel is a great vegetable and should be incorporated in our meals more often. This is a great example of how to enjoy it and the sweetness of the apple compliments so well. Thanks, John!
Hi Pat, fennel and apple play so well together, don't they? And smoked salmon is lovely with both. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a grand idea! I love the combo of fennel, celery and apple and with smoked salmon, how could this not be delicious! thanks John.
Hi MJ, this is really, really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love my salads crunchy and this is it! Great combo and perfect for getting ready for summer weather! You know what I mean!
Hi Abbe, I do indeed know what you mean. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love all the ingredients but have not put them together in quite this way. Most certainly shall as this looks like a delightful Lunch or light dinner with some peasanty bread . . . smoked trout sounds good and my very favourite smoked eel might not go amiss either !!!
I love fennel and sometimes eat it alone but it sure goes great in a salad.
Hi Eha, peasanty bread is a must. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dahn, fennel is great, isn't it? And it's so good in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
okay i know i'm being incredibly pedantic but do you mean hot smoked or cold smoked fish? They are rather different beasties :) I am guessing hot smoked ... THis sounds marvellous KR. Lots of wonderful flavours here. And I have to thank you very much for not being one of those bloggers who write screeds of rubbish on their blog posts before we get to the recipe. How did that get to be a thing? Sorry! I am sounding very very grumpy today!!
This sounds like the perfect salad. I love the combination of the fennel and apple.
Hi Sherry, we used hot smoked, but cold smoked would work too. And we always save our rubbish for the endings. Easier for people to skip that way. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, we use fennel and apple together a lot. And have made various versions of this, but think this version is the best we've ever come up with. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm a big fennel fan so I must try this one. Great combo of ingredients. Thanks for this recipe.
Hi Lea Ann, isn't this nice? Loads of flavor. Loads. :-) Thans for the comment.
A million times yes!
Hi Jeff, can we get to a million and one? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yes this is a salad that would certainly win friends and influence people (at least this people). Seriously delicious. GREG
Hi Greg, it seriously is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Loving all the fresh and vibrant flavours on this salad, definitely perfect with that salmon.
Hi Raymund, aren't the flavors of this nice? :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love pairing fennel with apples and other fruit - so I love this fresh salad you've got. And with the addition of smoked salmon? Yes please!
Hi Ben, it's always hard to resist smoked salmon! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hmmmmm I think you were a little stingy with the salmon, but I do love this whole idea. Perfect for spring!
Hi Mimi, easy enough to pile the salmon on! We sometimes do. :-) Thanks for the comment.
A perfect spring salad, I love that you are celebrating Spring with such enthusiasm. We're starting to think soups with Autumn in the air.Fennel and apple are such a natural pairing, and how delicious to top it off with smoked salmon. A wonderful recipe thanks KR.
Hi Pauline, we LOVE the change of season! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a beautiful bright and fresh blend of flavors. I love this! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Valenina, it's wonderful! We had it again for a dinner tonight. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Even though this recipe is, as you say, late season (or even autumnal), it has a very spring-like feel to it. Great flavors and really healthy. Love it. Thanks!
Hi David, this is an excellent dish in autumn, too. :-) Or but it's great right now -- we had it again last night. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I will happily eat anything with smoked salmon in it! ;) I love the idea of adding apples to the mix for that fresh, sweet counterpoint to the smoky, salty fish, too.
Hi Carolyn, the apples really add a lot to this. Really a nicely balanced dish, if we do say so ourselves. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What timing--I just bought a small smoker and am soon to try smoking a piece of salmon!
Hi Inger, enjoy! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such gorgeous refreshing flavours against the salty, smoky salmon. Beautiful colours too.
Hi Eva, it really is a crisp, refreshing, delightfully flavored dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Fennel is such an underrated vegetable. And it pairs incredibly well with both apples and salmon.
Hi Laura, isn't fennel good? One of our favorites lately. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So fresh and bright and guess what we bought this week- yep smoked salmon. Can't wait to try it.
I love fennel! And I always feel it is under appreciated. Roasted its sweet , fresh its crisp and crunchy. This is a beautiful recipe.
Hi Bobbi, smoked salmon is so good, isn't it? And it's great in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Velva, I almost never roast fennel! Which is weird, because I roast every other veggie -- must amend my ways. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow. I love all the flavors in this wonderful and healthy salad. I have to remember to use more fennel. It has such a robust flavor and my husband actually loves it.
Hi Judee, we often forget all about fennel too! But its flavor is terrific. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Izaa, it's really a great dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I first had smoked salmon at a Belgian friend's house, a decade ago, and while my husband loved it (and I am sure he will love this salad too), I could not bring myself to like it and I had such a tough time trying to gulp it down because I did not want to offend our friend who had very lovingly made us a three course meal :)
Hi Taruna, this salad is also really good without the smoked salmon! In fact we often serve it that way. :-) Although I admit, the salmon adds a lot of extra flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Beautiful combination (apple and salmon)! I am sure it must be delicious.
Hi B&S, it IS delicious! :-) Such good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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