Light summer salad: shaved fennel with baby spinach, apple and grapefruit

Barcelona, Spain

Hello Ladies,

It is hot, hot, hot in Barcelona! We’re lucky the apartment stays pretty cool during the day or else the Man and I would be roasting instead of working from home. Weather like this certainly puts you in the mood for light fare, am I right?

The recipe I want to share with you today is my version of a shaved fennel salad with a mandarin vinaigrette that I did for my plant-based cooking course last week. The course is still going well but I fell behind while I was in Herblay earlier this month and I’ve been so busy with work… it’s been tough getting back on track. There’s only about 5 weeks left so I’m going to be cooking like a mad woman to finish in time.

Light and fresh shaved fennel salad

The fennel, spinach, apple and grapefruit work really together in this dish and the result is not too sweet. (Right now Mom is thinking “Oh, no. I don’t think I’ll make this. Fruit in salad… not for me thanks.” Give it a try Mom, it’s deliciously refreshing, promise!)

Makes 2 – 4 servings depending on whether you’re using it as a starter or a main



  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced paper thin with a mandolin (watch those fingers!)
  • 1 granny smith apple, quartered and sliced very thin with a mandolin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 generous cups of baby spinach
  • 1 grapefruit, segmented and chopped into small cubes
  • A handful of sprouts (I used leek sprouts)


  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey (or agave nectar if you’re a strict vegan)
  • 2-3 tbsp of chives, minced


Start by working your magic with the mandolin, being very careful not to cut yourself as you slice the fennel bulb. Fingertips are useful so try to keep yours attached. Place the fennel in a large bowl.

Next, tackle the apple. Once you’ve sliced it, place the slices in a small bowl of filtered water, add the lemon juice and reserve. That will keep the apple from oxidizing and turning brown.

Peel and segment your grapefruit, making sure that there is no bitter pith (the soft white part of the skin) left on your segments. You can take a look at this video for a demonstration of how to do this correctly. Chop your segments into pretty pink cubes. Set aside.

Now you can make your dressing by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar and chives, as well as some salt and pepper to taste.

It’s time to pull out your plates and place the apple slices to form a flower shape. You’ll want to shake off any excess lemon water from each slice before using.

Add the spinach and grapefruit to the fennel and toss it. Give your dressing a final whisk and pour it a tablespoon at a time onto the salad. Toss after each addition of salad dressing. Stop adding once the salad is nicely coated but not dripping in dressing. You may not need to use all of it! It’s really a matter of taste. Season with salt and pepper and give the salad a final toss.

Add equal amounts of salad to each beautifully decorated plate (2- 4 depending on whether you are serving it as a starter or a light main). Try to pile it up so that you get a nice shape and some volume. Top with sprouts and serve.

Bon appétit!


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10 thoughts on “Light summer salad: shaved fennel with baby spinach, apple and grapefruit

  1. aspoonfulofnature July 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm Reply

    looks amazing!! and hope you have an amazing time in bcn hahaha I know it’s soo hot!!

  2. Jacqueline King July 2, 2015 at 5:21 pm Reply

    Looks great, I have a ton of fennel in my garden so I’ll have to try it!

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence July 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm Reply

      Wow Jacqueline, fennel in your garden? That sounds wonderful! I’ve always dreamed of growing my own vegetables. Enjoy the salad and let me know how it goes!

  3. Jan July 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm Reply

    Oh Beth this is so beautiful!!! You sure have thrown yourself into this course of yours and I can’t get over the results. I am very, very proud of you!
    Dad and I arrived in Milos today and had a delicious lunch at the flower pot place. We were asking him about sourcing vegetables and he walked away. We were afraid we might have insulted him. A couple of minutes later he came back with the biggest courgette (zucchini) that I have ever seen. He left us to go and cut it fresh from his garden. Using up this monster is going to be my challenge for the blog. Any suggestions? Em? Hanin? Any one else???? All ideas gratefully considered.
    And you were right, I was wondering if the salad might be a bit sweet but it’s so lovely, I’m going to have to give it a try.

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence July 3, 2015 at 3:51 pm Reply

      I’m so glad you like it and that you see progress in my cooking – it means a lot to me 🙂

      A giant zucchini could be perfect sliced to replace the pasta in a veggie lasagna/bake. When I’m in Milos (and I wish I was there right now) I like to mix the soft ewe’s milk cheese from the neighbours with some sundried tomato paste and fresh herbs. Then layer sliced raw zucchini, pan fried eggplant and diced tomatoes (sometimes onions too) with the cheese sauce. Then you bake that bad boy. As an option you can also add capers or olives and top with a little grated hard ewe’s milk cheese. Just make sure you watch your salt content – you don’t want to end up with a salt lick!

      Let me know what you end up doing with the monster courgette!!

  4. Emily @ July 4, 2015 at 2:33 pm Reply

    Beautiful Beth. I’m not a huge fan of mixing fruit and salad- but this really is delicious. It’s hot here too and this was the perfect dish- refreshing, hydrating and light. Thank you!

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence July 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm Reply

      You made it already? That’s awesome!

      I’ve only recently come around to the idea of having fruit in salad and I’m still quite picky about it. A few years at a restaurant with Jo and Seb I ordered roasted fennel with grapefruit – it was absolutely divine and I guess that flavour combo has been in the back of my mind ever since.

      Anything you would tweak in the recipe?

  5. Hanin July 9, 2015 at 7:39 am Reply

    Bethie, this is so beautiful and I will definitely try it!
    It is so hot here in Barcelona and this salad is like freshness on a plate, and you made it look so tempting… Maybe next time you post you can invite me over just so I can have a bite? 😉 hahaha!

    @Jan: I hope you had the trout starter! So delicious.
    @Emi: Really miss you, hope the Vancouver sky is back to normal!

    Kisses to all

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence July 9, 2015 at 3:22 pm Reply

      Yes, promise I’ll keep making lots of good food!! Wish we could all be together to share a meal. Guess we’ll have to wait for Christmas…

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