Colourful plant-based salad with crunchy raw fennel and courgette ribbons tossed together with sweet zippy citrus flavours. Easy to make and refreshingly light side salad for spring summer gatherings.
Why I Love Fennel and Courgette Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts
As you know, we don’t like boring salads. But we also understand some days we don’t have time to fuss around with ingredients that fall into the too hard basket.
Our Fennel and Courgette Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts has everything we love about a brilliantly easy salad. Simple ingredients. Interesting flavours. Looks amazing.
When creating a salad, it’s like a balancing act. When you have something crunchy, add something that is soft. When you have something that is bitter, add something that is sweet. Same rules have been applied to this salad.
I love the crunchy texture, slightly aniseed flavours of raw fennel combined with fresh courgette ribbons which contrasts perfectly with tangy sweetness of citrus fruits and then harmonised with buttery toasted pine nuts. An explosion of exciting flavours in your mouth.
And when your friends go back for more at the dinner table – a damn good sign that the combination of flavours has worked.
Difference Between Courgette and Zucchini?
Um.. nothing really. They are the same vegetables with different names in different countries. Zucchini is commonly used in Australia, USA and Canada whilst courgette is used in England, New Zealand and South Africa.
Zucchini and courgettes are labelled a summer squash, which belong to the same family as melons and cucumbers. It can grow up to 1 m long but generally harvested when they are still young, less than 20 cm long.
There are several varieties of zucchini and courgettes and the colours vary between light green to dark green plus also deep yellow or orange.
Did you know technically zucchini and courgettes are fruits? I had no idea! We treat it like a vegetable and cook it like one but it’s true botanical classification is a fruit! Things we learn everyday.
Can You Eat Courgette Raw?
Courgettes are so versatile and I love courgette in salad. You can eat them raw, pickled, grilled, stir fried, cooked, grated, steamed, and battered. It is actually one of my favourite vegetables.
Grilled over a hot plate at Korean barbeque dipped in sweet sauce or stuffed courgette flowers with ricotta, it can bring so many different flavours. I also love hiding it in my spaghetti Bolognese to add extra veggies for my kids.
Raw courgette has subtle sweetness and a great texture. It is quite different to cooked courgette. There are various ways you can serve raw zucchini.
Of course, you have to try courgette ribbons in salads, make zucchini noodles and serve as grain-free pasta or cut into sticks and serve with your favourite dip. Amy’s Zucchini and Cucumber Salad with Dried Shrimp is a classic example of how to enjoy them raw.
Courgettes are packed with nutrients and health benefits which makes it very popular in plant-based diets. It provides vitamins and minerals that can act as antioxidants to help protect your cells.
Due to its high water content and fibre but low in calories, courgettes may help promote weight loss, healthy digestion and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
How to Fennel and Courgette Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts
How To Cut Fennel
Some people are put off by fennel anise-like flavours but don’t be scared. Thinly sliced fennel adds crunchy and sweet fragrant notes to the salad that is well balanced by the citrus dressing. No strong liquorice bites at all.
For this salad, I used a mandolin slicer to help slice the fennel as I wanted thin slices, close to shavings. If you don’t have a mandolin, try a vegetable peeler or just use the knife and cut thinly.
Trim the top of the fennel, removing stalks and fronds, leaving the bulb and core intact. Keep some of the fennel fronds to sprinkle on top at serving.
Cut fennel in half. Then place cut side down and slide fennel back and forth across the blade. Keep going until the fennel becomes difficult to hold. Repeat with the other half of fennel.
Place shaved fennel into a bowl cold water with a squeeze of lemon to reduce oxidation. Leave until assembly.
How to Make Courgette (Zucchini) Ribbons
Preparing courgette ribbons may sound hard. It is not. Just has a fancy name. For this recipe, I wanted courgette ribbons because it creates a lighter texture and combines well with the fennel shavings. Plus it looks amazing on the plate!
Trim courgette top and bottom and use a Y peeler to carefully slice courgette lengthwise into long, thin ribbons. Repeat with both courgettes.
Prepare the Salad
For this plant-based salad recipe, we had a variety of citrus fruits available at the time so I chose orange, tangelo and blood orange to create stunning colours and bursts of different tangy flavours on the plate.
However, you don’t need to use all three fruits. Having just one kind of citrus fruit will still create a deliciously happy salad.
I use the same method to cut all the fruit. Make sure you have a very sharp knife otherwise you will squish the fruit and release too much juice.
First slice both ends of the fruit and then hold the fruit on its base. Cutting a downward motion, remove all the peel. Then turn the fruit on its side and cut into 0.5 cm thick rounds. Then cut rounds into quarters. Place aside ready for assembly.
Rinse and shake dry rocket leaves ready for assembling.
Pine nuts can roasted over the stove or in the oven. As my oven is not working, I’m pretty much cooking everything on my stove. And because it is for a small quantity, toasting over the stove works well.
Over medium-low heat, toast pine nuts in a dry pan until golden brown. Stir and move frequently to avoid burning. Once they are ready, remove quickly from pan.
For those looking for a Low FODMAP friendly salad, remove the pine nuts or keep it to less than 15 per serve.
How to Make Orange and Seeded Mustard Vinaigrette
This is super easy to make. The sweet citrus flavours combined with apple cider vinegar creates a tangy dressing that works so well with this Salad. Both vegetables take on the orange and seeded mustard vinaigrette very well.
Place orange juice, olive oil, seeded mustard, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a jar and give it a good shake.
If you don’t have a jar available, just place in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and then adjust according to taste. Can store in fridge for later use.
How To Assemble The Salad
Remove fennel from water and give it a good shake to remove any excess water.
Place rocket leaves, fennel and courgette ribbons in a large mixing bowl and dress with orange and seeded mustard vinaigrette. Mix around so that the salad is well covered with dressing.
Using a large serving plate, tumble rocket leaves, fennel and courgette ribbons on to plate. To create depth on the plate, I rolled up a few of the courgette ribbons so that it looks curled up.
Then layer citrus fruit between fennel and courgette ribbons.
To serve, scatter toasted pine nuts and fennel fronds.
I served Fennel and Courgette Salad with a wood-fire seafood paella to entertain my friends and I think the salad got more attention.
Several of them had never tried raw fennel or courgette before so were pleasantly surprised with the fresh crunchy texture and taste. The sweetness of the citrus fruits and the zippy orange and seeded mustard vinaigrette dialled up the volume and just shouted YUM.
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Fennel and Courgette Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts
- 1 fennel
- 2 courgettes
- 1 orange
- 1 tangelo
- 1 blood orange
- 50 g rocket leaves
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Trim the top of the fennel and remove stalks and fronds. Keep some of the fennel fronds to sprinkle on top at serving. Cut fennel in half. Then place cut side down on mandolin and slide fennel back and forth across the blade. Keep slicing until the fennel becomes difficult to hold. Repeat with the other half of fennel. Place shaved fennel into a bowl cold water with a squeeze of lemon to reduce oxidation. Leave until assembly.
- Trim courgette top and bottom and use a Y peeler to carefully slice courgette lengthwise into long, thin ribbons. Repeat with both courgettes.
- Using the same method to cut orange, tangelo and blood orange. First slice both ends of the fruit and then hold the fruit on its base. Cutting a downward motion, remove all the peel. Then turn the fruit on its side and cut into 0.5 cm thick rounds. Then cut rounds into quarters. Place aside ready for assembly.
- Rinse and shake dry rocket leaves ready for assembling.
- Over medium-low heat, dry toast pine nuts in a small fry pan until golden brown. Stir and move frequently to avoid burning. Once they are ready, remove quickly from pan.
- Place orange juice, olive oil, seeded mustard, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a jar and give it a good shake.
- If you don’t have a jar available, just place in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
- Taste and then adjust according to taste.
- Remove fennel from water and give it a good shake to remove any excess water.
- Place rocket leaves, fennel and courgette ribbons in a large mixing bowl and dress with orange and seeded mustard vinaigrette.
- Mix around so that the salad is well covered with dressing.
- Using a large serving plate, tumble rocket leaves, fennel and courgette ribbons on to plate.
- Layer citrus fruit between fennel and courgette ribbons.
- To serve, scatter toasted pine nuts and fennel fronds.
- You do not need to use three different types of citrus fruits. You can just use orange or whatever is in season. The three different types provides a more colourful and slightly different taste in the salad.
- If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, try a peeler or thinly slice with a sharp knife to cut the fennel.
- Don’t dress salad until serving. You can easily prepare the ingredients ahead of time and toss together then serving.
- Can omit pine nuts if you wish to have nut-free salad or have less than 15 in the recipe for Low FODMAP friendly.
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