You guys know I love grain salads, so it only makes sense that one of my favorites is this strawberry fennel salad with barley! It’s studded with juicy strawberries, chewy barley, and salty feta over a bed of fennel and arugula. And it’s all dressed in a delicious balsamic vinaigrette.
Thank you to the California Strawberry Commission for sponsoring this post! Originally published in 2014.
Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel
This easy strawberry fennel salad makes a great entrée or side. If you’re having it on its own, add some chickpeas and avocado to the mix to amp up the protein and healthy fat!
If you prefer it as a side, it makes a fabulous one. We enjoy it with grilled steak or chicken. It would also make a fun and different holiday dinner or potluck side dish!
I love the nice little crunch that the pumpkin seeds give it, and the fact that both the fennel bulb and fennel greens are used. Of course, the sweet strawberries add a nice pop of flavor too.
What does fennel taste like?
Fennel has a slight anise flavor (somewhat like licorice) with a lightly sweet, herbal taste. It’s a lot milder than onion or garlic, but has more flavor than celery or cucumber.
Of course, it’s delicious in salads (like this one), soups, and pasta dishes. Raw fennel has a slightly stronger flavor than cooked fennel. If you saute fennel, it gets sweeter and the anise flavor gets a bit milder.
The fennel bulb is crisp (like celery), whereas the greens/fronds are similar to fresh dill in texture.
As for nutritional benefits, fennel is rich in potassium, Vitamin C, fiber, folate, and other nutrients. So it’s a great option to add to your vegetable drawer if you haven’t already!
Which parts of fennel are edible?
The entire fennel plant is edible, but generally, only the bulb and greens/fronds are eaten. The stalks can be too tough, texture-wise, for eating.
To make this fennel salad, you’ll need:
- strawberries (ripe berries without bruising for the best flavor and texture)
- dry barley (or pre-cooked)
- pumpkin seeds (roasted and salted)
- feta cheese (optional – you can also use goat cheese, or even fresh mozzarella or burrata)
And for the dressing:
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- dijon mustard
- fresh lemon juice
This salad would be delicious with other types of grains, too, such as brown rice, quinoa, or farro.
I love adding chickpeas and/or avocado when I eat this as a full meal (lunch or dinner) for added healthy fats and staying power! It’s also tasty with steak or chicken.
Do you guys put fruit in your salads? The highlight of this salad is certainly the beautiful, juicy, and sweet strawberries.
Did you know that 90 percent of the nation’s strawberries come from California? (I took a trip to the strawberry farms this spring if you’d like to read more about where most of our strawberries come from!) Also, a fun nutrition fact: 8 strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange! No scurvy for us. 😉
The fennel is another big highlight – have you had it before? It’s delicious! Nice and crunchy with a subtle licorice flavor. Great in salads!
And you can use the greens as well as the bulb – just use them like any other herb.
As for the dressing, feel free to get creative, but I used my standard easy favorite: homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
How to Make Strawberry Fennel Salad
As with a majority of my recipes, this one is extremely easy (and quick) to make.
You just cook the barley according to the package instructions and let it cool. Then, slice/chop all the salad ingredients and combine them in a large bowl. Top with crumbled feta.
Lastly, whisk the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl or jar, then drizzle and toss everything together!
To make this salad come together even faster, you could use 90 second brown rice instead of barley. Although, the barley adds a lovely chew – it’s one of my favorite grains.
Ready to eat?
You’ll find the full strawberry fennel barley salad at the end of this post. Enjoy it!
What’s your favorite strawberry recipe? Here are a few other strawberry faves here on my blog:
- Vegan Strawberry Scones
- All That’s Missing is the Tropical Island Smoothie
- Chocolate Strawberry Overnight Oats
- Avocado Strawberry Toast with Balsamic Glaze
- Steak & Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup dry barley, cooked according to package instructions
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fennel greens, chopped
- 1/3 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup feta cheese (optional)
- 1 (5 oz) container arugula
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
- Cook barley according to package instructions. Once cooked, let cool.
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk.
- Dress salad just before serving. Enjoy!