This fennel caesar salad is a twist on a classic favourite. It’s full of familiar flavours: umami rich caesar dressing, plenty of freshly grated parmesan, toasted homemade croutons and a sprinkle of crispy capers, for an extra tangy, lemony, olivey burst of flavor. I you love Caesar salad, then I am convinced you will also love this creative take on it.
A vegetable-forward Caesar salad recipe
One of the fantastic things about caesar dressing is that you can pair it with any sturdy vegetable, whether it be shaved fennel, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage or even kohlrabi. The dressing is flavourful and rich making it the perfect accompaniment to vegetable salads. Croutons add the necessary crunch to make it satisfying and meal worthy!
Fennel Caesar Salad
If you are trying to convince someone to give fennel a try, a bold dressing is the perfect thing to tone down fennel’s lovely aniseed flavor. If you areN#t entirely convinced then substitute some of the fennel for romaine lettuce, or get even more creative and use a mix of mild-tasting kohlrabi and some tart apple to give this fennel caesar salad a variety of favours. Though, I highly recommend trying the shaved fennel! You might just be surprised at how much you enjoy it!
Looking for other ways to enjoy a classic Caesar salad?
Try one of these caesar salad inspired recipes:
- Classic Caesar Salad with Roasted Chicken
- Caesar Pasta Salat (vegan)
- Vegan Caesar Salad with Mixed Seeds & Herbs
- Aunt Ilse’s Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Fennel Caesar Salad
For the dressing:
- 4 anchovies, finely chopped (alternatively anchovy paste)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (60 ml)
For the croutons:
- 2 slices stale sourdough bread, cubed or torn into bite-size pieces
- Olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
For the crispy capers:
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the salad:
- 3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved (900-1000 g)
- 35 g freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C (180°C fan-assisted).
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (anchovies, egg yolk, both mustards, garlic, maple syrup, vinegar, lemon, cayenne and black pepper) until combined. Slowly add the olive oil, while constantly stirring until emulsified. Set aside.
Add the cubed bread to a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 5-6 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Keep an eye on the oven as the croutons can quickly over brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. Note: if the bread is still soft, then this may take 2-3 minutes longer.
In a small skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. In a small bowl, toss capers in the cornstarch. Add the capers to the skillet and fry, stirring often, until crisp; 3-4 minutes.
To shave the fennel: cut the fennel bulb in half, then trim the root. Thinly slice the fennel using a mandolin or sharp knife.
In a large serving bowl, add the fennel and dressing and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more parmesan, as desired. Then add the bread crumbs, toss to combine and finally top with the crispy capers (and garnish with fennel fronds for an extra pop of colour, if desired).
Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Fennel can oxidize quickly, so I recommend shaving it right before you are ready to toss it with the dressing and serve. This will help it retain its texture as well as keep its fresh, anise aroma.
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