Looking for a fall salad? Then this quinoa fennel salad is just for you! The fennel and zucchini are perfectly soft with a hint of sweetness, and the ginger quinoa adds a kick of flavour. A vegan, gluten free and low histamine salad.
If you are a lover of salads for lunch or as sides for your evening meal (or summer BBQs!) then you may also like to see my sweet potato cousous salad and roasted vegetable panzanella salad. Both so tasty!
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Why this recipe is so good
It's very easy, for me at least, to get stuck in a bit of a rut when it comes to eating lunch I find, but fennel has come back onto my shopping list lately. I think you will love this recipe because:
- Fresh and light: perfect for summer, but also for fall I feel!
- Versatile: it can be served on its own or with other proteins or side dishes.
- Plant-based protein: the quinoa gives you a vegan source of protein.
So many healthy ingredients in this quinoa and fennel salad! You will need:
- Quinoa: the base of the salad and a great source of plant-based protein. I tend to use white quinoa, but there are also tri-coloured quinoa blends if you fancy a change.
- Fennel: gives a lovely aniseed taste. Slice very thinly so it softens during cooking.
- Zucchini: slice on the diagonal to make it look a little fancy!
- Herbs: I use coriander, parsley and mint, but you can change up for those you prefer, and the proportion of each.
- Pumpkin seeds: to add a bit of crunch. I like Terrasoul organic pumpkin seeds.
- Ginger: use freshly grated if you can. It's one of the main flavours, so adjust quantity to taste preference.
- Maple syrup: adds a touch of sweetness to the fennel and zucchini.
- Apple cider vinegar: helps break down the more fibrous fennel, and give a slight tang too. If you can't tolerate apple cider vinegar, then white distilled vinegar make work for you (scores 0 on the SIGHI list for histamine).
- Garlic: the main flavour of the dressing. Mince or dice very finely.
- Apple juice: just a touch in place of lemon in the dressing.
Step by step instructions
I think of this as a 'two pans' kind of recipe - one for the quinoa and the other for the vegetables.
Fry the fennel and zucchini in olive oil in a pan for 10-15 minutes, or until softened and light golden brown. Then add the maple syrup, ginger, apple cider vinegar (if using) and a pinch of salt. Cook for a further 2 minutes and then set aside to cool.
Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions.
Combine the quinoa into the fennel mix, and add pumpkin seeds, herbs, salt and pepper (if using).
Then simply make the dressing, plate up and enjoy!
How to prepare fennel
Fennel is such an under-rated vegetable in my opinion, but so delicious. I think preparing fennel tends to put people off as it looks so odd, with stalks and fronds to grapple with. Here's how I prepare fennel:
1. Remove any outer layers that are dry or damaged in any way.
2. Cut off the darker green stalks and fronds. Slice off the root at the bottom if it seems too tough (seems to vary from fennel to fennel!).
3. Cut the fennel bulb in half. Slice finely slice into half moons. If they are too big, then you can dice further.
Recipe tips and variations
- Adjust the quantity of ginger to your preference for the right amount of 'heat' for you.
- Make sure the fennel is finely diced so that it softens. You also don't want to include the tough root.
- The vinegar is optional if you are on a low histamine diet. Or if you prefer to stick to foods rated 0 on the SIGHI list, then swap out for white distilled vinegar.
- To make it a main meal, you can add more seeds or nuts to make it heartier as a vegan option. Or some fresh mozzarella or grilled chicken.
How to serve this salad
This delicious salad can be a lunch or light dinner on its own as a vegan option. If you want a touch more protein, then sprinkle on some extra pumpkin seeds or pistachio nuts.
Mozzarella or grilled chicken can also be served on the side.
Or if you are having a BBQ then a range of salads alongside grilled meats or other protein options is always nice. Some ideas:
More salads to enjoy
Quinoa fennel salad
For the dressing
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon apple juice
- 1 garlic clove minced or finely diced
- salt and pepper (pepper optional)
- Add the fennel and zucchini to a pan and fry in olive oil for 10-15 minutes, or until softened and light golden brown. Add the maple syrup, ginger, apple cider vinegar (if using) and a pinch of salt. Cook for a further 2 minutes and then set aside to cool.
- Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions. Allow to cool.
- Make the dressing by combining the ingredients and stirring well to combine.
- Combine the quinoa into the fennel mix, and add pumpkin seeds, herbs, salt and pepper (if using).
- Plate up the salad and drizzle over the dressing. Then enjoy!
- This salad can actually be served as a warm salad. Simply serve immediately and don't allow the ingredients to cool.
- Adjust the amount of ginger to preference. It is one of the main flavours in the dish, so you can add more for a touch more heat, or reduce if you prefer.
- See above for ways to serve, and to make it a little heartier as a main dish.
- If you cannot tolerate apple cider vinegar, then white distilled vinegar scores 0 on the SIGHI list. Do note that some people aren't able to tolerate any vinegar.
- ginger, which scores 1.
- apple cider vinegar scores 1.
- black pepper, which scores 2.
- garlic, which scores 1.