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Early Spring Salad with Fennel, Watercress, Pomegranate, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Fennel Salad with watercress, Pomegranate, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fennel, pomegranate, salad, healthy


For the salad:

  • 1 each bulb fennel
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • ½ each apple red skinned
  • 1 each large carrot
  • 2-3 tablespoons hazelnut vinaigrette recipe below

Hazelnut Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts 1 oz weight, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 each shallot sliced
  • 3 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz champagne or white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • If starting with raw hazelnuts, toast them first (see below) and then make the vinaigrette.

To make the salad:

  • Cut the stalks off the fennel bulb down to about 1 inch above the bulb. Cut off the root end and wash the outside of the bulb. Cut the bulb in half and using a mandolin slicer or a very sharp knife, shave the fennel into paper-thin pieces, starting with the bulb on its side (not the cut side).
  • Cut the thickest stems off the watercress and separate into pieces.
  • If you need to, clean the pomegranate, reserving the seeds (some stores sell just the seeds).
  • Cut the apple in half and cut out the core. Lay the apple with the cut side down and slice about 1/8” thick or use a Mandoline Slicer (this is the one I use).
  • Peel the carrot, then using the peeler, cut long “ribbons” the length of the carrot. Put the ribbons in a bowl of ice water for about 10 minutes where they will curl and crisp up.
  • In a large bowl add the shaved fennel, watercress, pomegranate seeds, sliced apple and carrot ribbons. Toss gently to combine. Add 2-3 tablespoons of dressing to your personal taste and gently combine. Serve immediately.

To make the vinaigrette:

  • If using raw hazelnuts, toast them first (instructions below)
  • Chop the hazelnuts into ¼ inch or smaller pieces.
  • Combine the olive oil, vinegar, sliced shallots and hazelnuts in a small bowl and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Or, shake all ingredients together in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid.

How to toast raw hazelnuts:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a sheet pan and place them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they start to turn brown. The skins on the hazelnuts will start to crack and pull off the nut and they will smell heavenly.
  • Allow them to cool and then place them on a clean dish towel. Gather up the hazelnuts in the towel and rub them against each other for 10-15 seconds. This will rub off the skins. Pick out the clean hazelnuts and repeat as necessary. Not every fleck of the skins will come off, but that’s ok, just get as much as possible off.


You can make the vinaigrette the night before, but I would add the toasted hazelnuts less than an hour before you serve it because they can lose their crunch sitting too long in the vinaigrette.