This Orange Fennel Spinach Salad is fresh, healthy and super delish. It's also a beautiful sight to behold and the Honey White Balsamic Dressing ties all the ingredients together with a bow!
The inspiration for this Orange Fennel Spinach Salad was two-fold. It started with a bag of beautiful Florida oranges; a sweet gift from a thoughtful friend. The second source of influence was a big, gorgeous carton of baby spinach that I spotted while shopping at Costco last week. The orange/spinach combination got my head spinning with ideas for a new seasonal salad. With red onions and a sack of whole almonds in the pantry and a fennel bulb in the fridge, I was only missing one thing to make my salad "sing". I added one pomegranate to my online grocery order and, as soon as the doorbell rang, I was ready to roll.
A faithful old friend
I decided to use a delicious old friend to dress this new salad creation, our Honey White Balsamic Dressing. I call it an old friend because I've been making this delicious dressing regularly for years. It's a favorite around here as it pairs well with so many different ingredients. It's also seasonless, in that it works well with summer berries, baby lettuce and garden veggies but it's also perfect with citrus, winter squash and hearty greens.
A match made in heaven
I love how the ingredients in this Orange Fennel Spinach Salad complement each other perfectly:
- Baby spinach; a crisp leafy green with mild flavor and a pretty green hue. Spinach is also loaded with great nutrients.
- Oranges; sweet and juicy, they're also a gorgeous contrast in colors to the deep green spinach and neon pink onions.
- Fennel; with a complex flavor and hints of anise, raw fennel is crisp with a pretty pearly white color.
- Pomegranate arils: crimson-hued little jewels, these juicy, sweet pomegranate seeds are a royal adornment.
- Pickled red onions; in addition to being a gorgeous shade of magenta these onion ribbons are sweet and tangy at the same time.
- Rosemary-roasted almonds; shatteringly crunch with a burst of salted roasted rosemary flavor!
Put these all together and you get a bit of sweet, salty, juicy, crisp, crunchy, tangy deliciousness in each bite of this Orange Fennel Spinach Salad!
For less stressful meals and entertaining, prep this Orange Fennel Salad in advance. Here's how to do that:
- Make the dressing up to a week in advance.
- The almonds can be made several days ahead. Just hide them in a good place because they're delicious and quite addictive. You may find when it's time to put the salad together an empty bag with just a few crumbs. That would be sad!
- I like to make the pickled red onions at least 12 hours in advance as they get prettier as time goes on. I often make a double batch as they're good for up to a week.
- Trim and slice the fennel up to a day ahead and store in an airtight storage container or ziplock bag.
- The oranges can be peeled earlier in the day and stored in a ziplock bag. Then simply slice them before putting the salad together.
- Pomegranate arils keep nicely in the refrigerator for 5-7 days in the refrigerator. If you're intimidated with the thought of removing pomegranate seeds, no worries! We have a post (including a video) that shows how to do it the super easy way with no fuss, mess or water!
All you'll have left to do is to act like a fancy-dancy gourmet salad maker... pull out your prettiest bowl, and add the spinach, oranges, and onions. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and top with the crunchy almonds and pomegranate arils. Then stand back and admire your work of art!
You can also serve this salad on individual plates. I like to fill each plate with spinach then top with the orange slices, onions ribbons, pomegranate seeds and almonds. Drizzle lightly with the dressing and proudly present your little works of art to each guest.
Serve with extra dressing at the table. Expect lots of "wows" when you bring out the beautiful salad!
Don't let the season pass without making this Orange Fennel Spinach Salad, it's a winner!
Cafe Tips for Making this Orange Fennel Spinach Salad
- Any type of sweet, seedless orange will work for this salad. I have used mandarin oranges and Honeybell, they're both delicious!
- I usually make a double batch of the Honey White Balsamic Dressing as it works well with any type of greens and pairs well with so many other ingredients.
- If you can't find pretty baby spinach, use whatever greens that look best at the market or grocery. I love the Butter Baby lettuce that's available at a lot of grocery stores, but there are lots of other delicious varieties.
- This salad calls for a small fennel bulb that's thinly sliced. Fennel is a crunchy vegetable that has a slightly sweet, subtle anise flavor. You'll find it at most larger grocery stores in the fresh produce section. Fennel bulbs often come with long green stalks and feathery leaves attached. The stems and leaves are edible but in this recipe, you want to cut off the stalks, close to the bulb and slice the the bulb into thin ribbons.
- We love the flavor and crunch of fennel in this salad but if you can't find it or dislike fennel, this salad will be delicious without it.
- If you make the rosemary roasted almonds for this recipe and they're not super crunchy, simply return them to the microwave for a minute or two, stirring in between.
- This salad makes a great 1st course or side salad but if you add grilled chicken, shrimp or pork tenderloin, it's a delicious, healthy main course salad!
Thought for the day:
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 1 medium red onion peeled and sliced into thin wedges
- ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup water
- 1 batch of this Honey White Balsamic Dressing recipe
- ½ cup whole almonds
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for finishing
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary plus more for finishing
- ½ teaspoon fine salt or table salt not kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 6-8 ounces baby spinach
- 4 medium mandarin oranges (or 3 medium navel oranges) peeled, halved and sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 1 small fennel bulb stems and fronds removed halved, then thinly sliced crosswise, discarding the hard core, optional
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils optional
Combine all ingredients into a pint-size jar with a tight-fitting lid. Screw on the lid and shake, shake, shake. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours for really pretty color.
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Screw on the lide and shake, shake, shake. Store in the refrigerator. Can be made up to a week in advance.
Combine all ingredients in a medium-size microwave-safe cup or bowl. Stir well then microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and repeat x 2 for a total of 3 minutes in the microwave.
Remove from the microwave, stir well and turn out onto a plate lined with paper towels. Allow the almonds to cool just a bit then taste and add more fine salt, if needed.
Add spinach to a large bowl. Drizzle lightly with the dressing and toss to coat the leaves. Top with most of the oranges, fennel and half of pickled red onions.
Toss lightly and top with remaining oranges, fennel and as many of the onions as you prefer. You may not need all of the pickled red onions (depending on the size of your onion).
Top with pomegranate arils (if using) and almonds. Serve extra dressing at the table.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
This recipe does not include the nutritional information for the salad dressing. See that post for its nutrition.