apple and fennel salad

Fennel Apple Salad

I’m convinced that smoke detectors cause more injuries than prevent them. I was making dinner last night – nothing crazy – just a simple weeknight affair: some roasted fish, some cabbage with hot sauce, some sautéed spinach that needed rescuing. Everything in this dinner cooked pretty quickly, and there was little prep work – it was simple, unfussy, satisfying fare. Andrew was minutes away from home. We were going to eat and finish dinner before 9 pm, which, on weeknights when he isn’t working from home, is an accomplishment. The world was mine for the taking.

Or so I thought. But the universe had slightly different plans for me. The smoke detector decided it was too smoky. I happen to disagree – I could see as clear as day (though Andrew might claim it was a tad smoky in the kitchen). But all was fine and good – nothing was burning, nothing was even close to burning. But a few seconds after I set a hot baked fish on the counter, the alarm went off, and because I flail when I startle (and that detector has been known to raise the dead), I accidentally, in my flailing, happen to touch the edge of the baking tray the fish was on. For a few seconds, which was all that was needed to do the damage. All the while the smoke detector was blaring and a neutral female voice was calmly informing me that there was a fire. There wasn’t. I know because I was there. American smoke detectors are such drama queens.

Fennel Apple Salad

So that was fun, and now I’ve got three bandages on two hands. Not too bad, but slightly on the annoying side. I’ll have to shower with plastic bags on my hands for a few days. It’s not the end of the world, but I just wish that New York smoke detectors weren’t so sensitive. It’s as if they don’t want us to cook in our apartments. Before Andrew moved in, he would set off his smoke detector by frying a single egg.

Which brings me to this seemingly unconnected thought – make this apple and fennel salad. Make it soon, maybe even this weekend. You’ll want to eat it all the time – it’s just so cheery and uplifting. And it will make you feel more like spring is really in full swing (we know it’s coming from the tiny green buds on trees and some flowers out already, but it’s still kind of chilly out).

Fennel Apple Salad

The fennel is so crunchy and refreshing (I can’t believe I ever gagged eating this stuff – and now I can’t get enough of it!) and the tart apples shaved paper-thin feel like they’ve meant to be paired with the fennel slices. Also the dill is key. I know that part of being Russian, means to be a little dill-crazy, but I really think dill and fennel were meant to be together, and I’m pretty sure they’re cousins who see one another over vacations and whatnot. They play so well together – the green dill note mingling with the faintly anise-scented fennel. Baby arugula adds a touch of bite and the whole salad is one crunchy, happy paean to spring.

Fennel Apple Salad

And here’s the beauty of making this in an apartment with a super sensitive smoke detector – it won’t go off and scare you half to death, which given my current blistered and bandaged state – is a definite plus.

Apple Fennel Salad

If you’re making this salad for two people, you’ll likely have leftovers. It’s well-known that no one likes eating leftover greens salad. But hang on to this one – the apples and fennel get a little softer, but stay crunchy. Makes them excellent topping for burgers – if you happen to have them the next night. Or veggie burgers, if like my friend Jennie, you want to decrease your meat consumption.

8 cups wild arugula, washed and dried
1 fennel bulb, sliced paper-thin
1/2 sweet-tart apple such as Gala, sliced paper-thin
1/4 cup chopped dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Combine salt with the lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Let stand a few minutes before combining with olive oil and black pepper.

2. In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula, fennel, apple, and dill. Toss gently with the dressing to coat well. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


  • ilya

    Brilliant. I love fennel, and these salads are wonderful. And I don’t mind leftovers at all.

  • Ruth

    This salad looks great. I reallyl ike fennel, sliced as thinly as possible, and the apples paired with it sound divine. I am really fond of pink lady apples in salads at the moment. Really crunchy and fresh tasting! Thanks for sharing!

  • Marie

    I feel your pain… literally- Happily making dinner and burned my hand last night, too. Puts such a damper on the rest of dinner!

  • cory {relish}

    i second marie….i burned my hand on some caramel a couple of weeks ago and it is taking forever to heal!

    i love the idea of this salad! i am a huge fan of fennel and apple together. i ususally try it with granny smith, but the gala idea sounds delish too!

  • Krista

    I am sorry that you burned your hand, but I was somehow happy to hear that my smoke detector is not the only uber sensitive one. I can’t believe how sensitive they are. So much noise for so little smoke. That salad looks and sounds phenomenal. Can’t wait to try it.

  • merry jennifer

    So sorry about your burn!
    The salad sounds like a great one – and just the thing since there’s no hot stove involved. Although, a mandoline would make the thin slicing so much easier, and there is danger with that device. :)

  • Radish

    merry jennifer – the number of times i have injured myself with a mandoline, i’ve lost count. Though Melissa Clark has this amazing globe (microplane) and it’s a LIFESAVER – I need to get one too.

  • Sara

    to the previous commenters–I have the cut resistant microplane glove that I use with my mandoline. I love it. I haven’t luckily truly tested its efficacy, and I try to be just as careful using my mandoline as if I didn’t have the glove. But I am so thankful to have it (Xmas present!)–It just cuts out the fear factor for me. And now, after several years never touching it, I use my mandoline all the time and marvel, “how did I live without it?”

    I love fennel too–i think slicing it so thin would be all the better, rather than in thick chunks. It does seem to divide people into camps, though.

  • Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen

    Hilarious depiction of your smoke alarm! I totallyyy know what you mean! I’ve had the same problem with dramatic American smoke alarms and you just told the story perfectly. Love fennel salads by the way, try it with grapefruit next time! Mmm

  • snippets of thyme

    Crazy! I just made a dish with fennel for the first time tonight. It was braised chicken, fennel, artichokes, and onion. I loved the addition of the fennel and can’t believe I had not tried it until tonight. The vegetables were roasted with the chicken. BTW, our fire alarm goes off constantly. The poor pets are finally getting used to it!

  • Juanita

    Oh gosh – sorry to hear about your hands. How awful!

    I must say, I am still at the “gagging” part when eating fennel – I can’t stand the licorice flavour. I’d be interested to hear what it was about fennel that you originally disliked, and how you got past it??

  • Radish

    Juanita – not sure, I think because people’s palate’s shift every 7 years or so, I grew to like the taste. :)

  • Allison

    I always like fennel when I have it restaurants, but I never ever buy it or make anything with it at home, because I’m afraid I won’t like it. I’ll trust you though, because this looks really good!

    Hope you’re healing up nicely!

  • gruyere and pancetta quiche with hash-brown crust | Sassy Radish

    […] 4. While the crust bakes, rinse out your bowl where you mixed the potatoes, and dry it. Don’t bother thoroughly washing it – you’ll be using it now. In this bowl, add the sour cream, crème fraîche, reserved pancetta, Gruyere, and the remaining salt and pepper, and whisk until combined. Whisk in remaining 11 eggs and parsley until the mixture is uniform. Pour the filling into the crust and transfer to the oven. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until set (you can gently take or shake the pan – and if the filling jiggles slightly in the middle but not on the sides, which should be pulling away a bit, then the quiche is done). The potato edges of the quiche will be a nice, deep brown, and the top of the quiche should have a chestnut brown color as well. Let cool 15 minutes before unmolding; peel off waxed paper. Serve either warm or at room temperature, ideally with this salad. […]

  • Danni

    So your comment about Fennel and Dill was perfect! From a gardening standpoint they are perfectly paired. Nothing else can thrive beside fennel but Dill. It’s the best buffer for thee rest of your plants if you are growing Fennel. Just a random fact… love the recipe!

Leave a Comment