Fennel, Avocado & Mint Salad

by Danielle Omar on April 15, 2011

The second Thursday of every month I get together with seven girlfriends for Supper Club.  We rotate houses and themes, but the focus is the same…eat, drink wine, and chat.  I’m sure many of you share a similar ritual around a Sunday brunch or a night out, but I love a good pot-luck!  We mostly keep the dishes home-cooked and I’m usually the one testing a new recipe (I know, I shouldn’t experiment on house guests but so far, so good).  We drink a lot of wine and stay up too late for a Thursday, but I always look forward to this fun night of great food and lively conversation with friends.

I hosted last night and the theme was Spring Barbecue.  I was responsible for the main dish and the salad.  My husband did the grilling (no, husbands are not allowed, but he stayed outside most of the time and politely disappeared afterwards).  He made his “secret recipe” grilled chicken and a salmon fillet for me.  My girlfriends brought the bruschetta appetizer, guacamole, grilled asparagus, delicious brown sugar-buttered carrots, and herb roasted potatoes.  Brownies rounded out dessert.

The Fennel, Avocado, and Mint salad was my experimental dish and it was awesome.  Nutty, crispy, and creamy all at the same time, it was a hearty dish, yet light enough to serve with grilled chicken and potatoes.  I think the dressing is what makes this salad special.  The nutty lemon flavor was a sophisticated upgrade from my usual balsamic vinaigrette.

The recipe below is enough for six people.  I subbed out the pistachio oil for walnut oil and added toasted walnuts because I love them!

Fennel, Avocado and Mint Salad

(adapted from Chow.com and Pure Food and Wine, By Neal Harden)

  • 1 ½ cups dry sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
  • 3 medium fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
  • ½ cup Pistachio-Caper Vinaigrette
  • 2 medium ripe Haas avocados
  • ¼ cup fresh mint finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts ( I added this)
Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and pour the water over the tomatoes so that they are completely submerged. Allow to soak for 1 hour (I just let them soak while I prepped the salad) then drain and slice into 1/8-inch-thick strips.
Combine the sliced fennel and sun-dried tomatoes in a mixing bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.
Halve the avocados lengthwise and remove the pits. Peel each half and place it cut side down on a cutting board. Slice into very thin, lengthwise strips.
Layer the fennel salad mixture in a flat bowl, then added the fresh avocado and the fresh herbs.  Repeat until all ingredients are stacked in the bowl, ending with a layer of fennel and herbs, about 4 layers of each ingredient.  You can toss all the ingredients together and serve in a salad bowl.
Let the salad sit for half an hour at room temperature to allow the flavors to combine, then scoop onto plates.
Pistachio Walnut-Caper Vinaigrette
  • Finely grated zest of 2 medium lemons
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp lemon (or juice from about 2 ½ medium lemons)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ heaping tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup drained capers in brine, minced
  • ¼ cup roasted pistachio oil walnut oil (I couldn’t find the pistachio oil)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced red onion (about ½ small onion)


Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and capers in a medium, nonreactive bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt. Slowly add pistachio walnut and olive oils, pouring them in a thin stream while whisking constantly. Stir in onion, taste, and adjust seasoning as desired.

Danielle Omar, MS, RD

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 EA Stewart April 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Looks great! I was just munching on some wild fennel yesterday when I was out hiking with my kids. Your supper club sounds like a lot of fun. Love that you had your husband cook, but stay outside!


2 2eatwell April 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I know, it's kinda mean but he didn't mind! He was sweet, he helped a lot – set the table and cleaned up around the house. Good guy! :)


3 Cheryl April 17, 2011 at 2:51 am

looks delicious, and what a fun way to connect with friends! Lucky that you've got a cooperative griller.


4 Amy April 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I'm thinking about serving this with a small salmon fillet on top. Do you think that would work with this salad? How would you season the salmon?


5 2eatwell May 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Yes, Amy — I think it would be great with salmon on top! I would just season with salt and pepper….


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