Crunchy Fennel Salad with Grapes, Dates, Olives and Almonds


A few weeks ago, my friend Nicole from PreventionRD made my day when she told me, “You have the best recipes!” That same day, she happened to post this phenomenal salad on her blog that made me feel the need the need to tell her, “No, YOU have the best recipes!”

a paaar-tay in my mouth!” is how Nicole titled her post and that was plenty to draw me in. (In fact, I’ve used that title before too!) What would this party entail? Flavors bursting like a rowdy crowd yelling, “Surprise!!”? A combination of seasonal ingredients worth celebrating? Brightly colored produce strewn around like confetti?

Actually, it was all of the above.

This salad features fennel (a new love of mine!) and a bunch of ingredients I always have on hand: dates, sliced almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, and pecorino romano cheese (it actually calls for parmesan, but I always prefer pecorino.) All I had to pick up were olives and grapes. You might be reading this thinking, “do all of those things really go together?” The answer is, “yes, Yes, YES!”


I scaled the ingredients down a bit to make enough for two, and actually made this twice so I could tweak a few things and get it just right for our tastes. The first time, I decided make use of my mandoline (something I don’t do very often) and shave the fennel very thinly. Shaved fennel sounds fancier too, right? Well, all I got out of this was a reminder how much I hate my mandoline (maybe I’d feel differently if I got my hands on a fancy shmancy restaurant-quality one). And to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the texture; I really wanted some crunch, a good bite, from the fennel. I also felt I used too many grapes and almost couldn’t taste the dates. So I made the salad again, favoring simplicity this time, and just thinly sliced the fennel. I also adjusted the amounts of grapes (a little less) and dates (a little more) to balance the flavors.

In the end, this salad was a celebration of vibrant flavors and textures, combining with just the right amount of sweet and salty contrast pulled together by the hint of lemon. Pair it with a simple protein (we salmon broiled with lemon slices) and let it be the life of the party.

Crunchy Fennel Salad with Grapes, Dates, Olives and Almonds
Original recipe from Mollie Katzen’s The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without
Printable Recipe
1/2 lb thinly sliced fennel (from 1 medium to large bulb)
3/4 cup (120gm) red seedless grapes, cut in half
2 oz green kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
4 dates, sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz sliced almonds
3/4oz shaved pecorino romano cheese

Combine the fennel, grapes, olives and dates in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Just before serving, mix in the almonds and pecorino romano cheese.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 350.2
Total Fat: 22.6 g
Cholesterol: 9.4 mg
Sodium: 703.1 mg
Total Carbs: 39.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.3 g
Protein: 8.5 g

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24 Responses to “Crunchy Fennel Salad with Grapes, Dates, Olives and Almonds”

  1. 1

    Dawn — May 10, 2010 @ 1:44 pm Reply

    What a great mixture. I love that you are using the grapes in everything. Also your serving spoons are so cute. I saw some like that at the farmers market and I should get some next time. They make for a great photo!

  2. 2

    Brandi — May 10, 2010 @ 3:03 pm Reply

    such a beautiful plate of food! I just wish I liked fennel 😉

  3. 3

    Debi — May 10, 2010 @ 6:16 pm Reply

    Omg, my mouth is watering… and I've already eaten lunch! This is a "must make" salad!

  4. 4

    Shanon — May 10, 2010 @ 7:16 pm Reply

    saving this recipe! i love interesting salads like this!

  5. 5

    Raina — May 10, 2010 @ 11:54 pm Reply

    Wow! Great recipe. Really different. Thanks for passing it along.

  6. 6

    yumventures — May 11, 2010 @ 12:48 am Reply

    I adore fennel salad. Thinly sliced, it is so perfectly tasty and crisp! My family has a recipe with fennel, lemon, and parmesan cheese that is always a big hit. I love the sweetness added here, will HAVe to try it sometime!

  7. 7

    marla {Family Fresh Cooking} — May 11, 2010 @ 1:39 am Reply

    I love your blog and Nicole's!! This recipe is so refreshing. I have been using dates a lot in my sweets, why not toss some in a salad? Agreed, I would rather use pecorino than parmesan any day 🙂 xo

  8. 8

    Taste of Beirut — May 11, 2010 @ 2:09 am Reply

    CaraYou did it again! You make me salivate here! I love salads more than anything and I have never tried one with fennel! and all these other wonderful ingredients! It is a feast!

  9. 9

    Maria — May 11, 2010 @ 2:40 am Reply

    Great flavors going on here!

  10. 10

    Steph Chung — May 11, 2010 @ 5:36 am Reply

    That looks so yummy! I've also tried making a few recipes from Molly's book and they have all turned out fabulous. It's such an awesome book, I love it!

  11. 11

    Bridget — May 11, 2010 @ 11:15 am Reply

    Hey Cara!This salad sounds awesome! What great flavors to put together!!I'm SO jealous your going to Greece!! I LOVED it! We only went to Athens and Santorini, but it was amazing. Definintely email me with any questions 🙂

  12. 12

    Shannon — May 11, 2010 @ 11:24 am Reply

    ooh, while i only like fennel roasted, this salad sounds fantastic and i'd totally make it with cabbage 🙂

  13. 13

    Von — May 11, 2010 @ 12:58 pm Reply

    I'm not a huge fan of fennel, but this salad sounds so good!

  14. 14

    Jennifer — May 11, 2010 @ 3:25 pm Reply

    I have been in SUCH a huge salad mood lately, this is perfect!! I adore the mixture of sweet n savory!

  15. 15

    Barbara — May 11, 2010 @ 9:11 pm Reply

    I love that combination!Not the biggest fan of raw fennel ( I love it roasted though) but I think I may have to try this salad!

  16. 16

    Karjalanpiirakka — May 11, 2010 @ 9:15 pm Reply

    Just found your blog and I LOVE it! Just my kind of food and very interesting and fresh recipes. Thanks so much! 🙂

  17. 17 — May 11, 2010 @ 11:26 pm Reply

    I just laughed out loud! "A paaartay in my mouth!" — that salad really is delicious! I wish I could take credit, but I am so glad you liked it! You still have the best recipes, though! PROMISE!

  18. 18

    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — May 12, 2010 @ 3:47 am Reply

    i LOVE fennel! I love fennel and beets w/ OJ. so good!

  19. 19

    grace — May 12, 2010 @ 9:39 am Reply

    if i had my druthers, there'd be something sweet, something juicy, something nutty, and something crunchy in every salad. there's something so satisfying about the one-two(-three-four) punch that such a combination delivers. this is a great salad, cara–confetti-ish indeed!

  20. 20

    Liz — May 12, 2010 @ 3:12 pm Reply

    Wow, olives are a really creative addition to an otherwise sweet salad — I'll give this a try with my next fennel root.

  21. 21

    Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen — May 12, 2010 @ 10:19 pm Reply

    This does sound amazing! I love all these unique flavor combinations – so much fun!

  22. 22

    gfe--gluten free easily — November 14, 2010 @ 5:26 am Reply

    Cara, this looks like the kind of salad you'd get in a restaurant and ooh and ahhh over as well as pay top dollar 😉 … how wonderful to make it at home! What a great addition to our Thanksgiving Favorites for our Gluten-Free Holiday–thanks so much! :-)Hugs,Shirley

  23. 23

    Liz — April 5, 2011 @ 1:22 am Reply

    Wow, olives are a really creative addition to an otherwise sweet salad — I'll give this a try with my next fennel root.

  24. 24

    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — April 5, 2011 @ 1:22 am Reply

    i LOVE fennel! I love fennel and beets w/ OJ. so good!

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