Tomato and Fennel Summer Salad

Here come the tomatoes, and my first fennel!

I picked my first cherry tomatoes from my plants this week, and this is what really marks summer’s beginning to me. Of course, the farm stands are full of beautiful heirloom fruits of many colors, tempting me into making Salad Caprese with local fresh mozzarella, Bruschetta with a fruity olive oil and touch of garlic, and the long-awaited first tomato sandwich with a little mayo, salt, thick slice of tomato and nothing else. We’ll make any number of other wonderful and quick sides and main dishes. Oh, that flavor!

A quick sauté

         I was thinking about a salad my niece Jess made for us. It was a simple corn salad, but she sautéed the onions lightly first and it was such a welcome change to a raw, and sometimes too strong, onion. I thought I’d use the technique with a basic tomato salad, and the results were delicious.

A new crop

         I also picked my first couple of fennel bulbs, pitifully small really, but packed with delightful flavor. I’m still quite proud of them! I sliced those thinly as well and tossed them in with the onions for a quick sauté, and used the fronds in the vinaigrette. I resisted the urge to add other herbs to the mix, preferring to keep a clean fennel flavor.

It held up well, and I enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day.

Tomato and Fennel Summer Salad

  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. fruity olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. fennel fronds, finely minced
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. pulverized fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lb. heirloom tomatoes, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar and 4 tbsp. (1/4 cup) olive oil. Add a pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper, the fronds, and whisk together.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet and add the fennel and onions, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Cook just until they start to soften and add the garlic and fennel seeds. Sauté another minute or so until fragrant. Remove to the bowl and mix with the vinaigrette.

Chop the tomatoes and add to the bowl, mixing gently. It’s all right if the onions are still a little warm. If your tomatoes are extremely juicy, squeeze out a bit of the juice first. Correct seasoning.

Chill for at least an hour, place on a bed of lettuce, garnish, and serve. You can add croutons if you like, or make it a meal with a protein of choice.

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44 Comments Add yours

  1. Chef Mimi says:

    Gorgeous. So pretty. I personally like my tomatoes red. I don’t know why. And watermelon red as well!!!

    1. That is so funny Mimi! My mom LOVED the yellow tomatoes best, but I guess I like them all. There is something special about those beautiful, deep red tomatoes though.

  2. BERNADETTE says:

    I can’t wait for my first tomato sandwich. Wonderful salad.

    1. Thanks Bernie! It’s one of the best bites of the year!

  3. Americaoncoffee says:

    Good day Dorothy, I love how you bring your garden into your kitchen. Salads are tasty and fun. I am not acquainted with using flannel in salads. I will explore. Thanks much.🥗🧉

    1. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables, and I think it is much underused here!

  4. gabychops says:

    Thankyou for the beautiful photos.and the salad would be on my menu any time!


    1. Thank you! I’m definitely going to be making this on a regular basis.

  5. Julia says:

    What a stunning picture of the salad. I love fresh homegrown tomatoes, so the salad sounds delicious to me.

    1. Thank you Julia! It was really tasty!

  6. Robbie Cheadle says:

    Hi Dorothy, this sounds very nice. It’s great to have your own fresh vegetables.

    1. Thank you Robbie. There is so much more flavor in just picked!

  7. Suzassippi says:

    Beautiful, and I love love love fresh tomatoes. I might even be tempted to take a bit with those sauteed onions! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Nothing like a juicy tomato, especially if it is still warm from the sun!

  8. Ronit says:

    Such a colorful and tasty celebration of summer!
    The anise fennel flavor is so fresh and aromatic.

    1. Thank you Ronit. I love the flavor of fennel, it is really light and refreshing in this salad.

  9. writinstuff says:

    So beautiful and refreshing!

    1. Thank you so much!

  10. Is there anything better than a tomato? I didn’t think so either but then you married her off to some sleek fennel guy, a brilliant new creation! Here’s to your divine summer salad, hugs, C

    1. It was love at first sight Cheryl!

    1. Thanks! We really enjoyed this one.

  11. NativeNM says:

    I love this time of year when the garden tomatoes are starting to ripen, they taste so good! What a wonderful tomato salad you have displayed! I must confess I’ve never had fresh fennel, does it taste like the dried fennel seeds? Sometimes dried tastes different and my curious mind wants to know.

    1. Yes, fresh fennel has that licorice like flavor, but it is much more subtle than the seeds. It roasts beautifully too!

  12. My tomatoes are slow growing this year. I have a few cherries set on but they haven’t ripened yet. I may need to actually purchase tomatoes this year. What a thought. 🙂

    1. The three cherries on the salad are my first, plus I popped one in my mouth off the vibe. A strange garden year, with that cold snap.

  13. Nancy says:

    I love the idea of sautéing the onions first as well. This salad looks heavenly.
    Congratulations on your first tomatoes! Mmmmm! Mmmmm!
    And your markets look incredible.
    Bon Appetite!

    1. Thank you! That quick sauté made all the difference.

  14. Such a beautiful salad, and I love the idea of sauteed onions and fennel to compliment flavorful summer tomatoes!

    1. Thank you! It worked really well.

  15. Oh welcome summer! I eat our cherry tomatoes like candy. My husband also picked our first ones this week. Your summer salad sounds wonderful Dorothy.

    1. Thank you Diane! My favorite tomato is right from the vine, still warm from the sun!

  16. Judee says:

    Your salad looks beautiful and I love the yellow tomatoes. Nothing like the thrill of picking your own from your own plants. Ours should be ripe in about a week.

    1. judee says:

      don’t know why my url didn’t go through on my comment ??

      1. I’ve long ago stopped trying to figure out all the little WP gremlins!

  17. Thank you! It is a wonderful time when those first fruit start turning!

  18. Those stands of tomatoes are gorgeous 😍 but nothing beats your own grown veggies, even if small 😉
    What a lovely salad! 😋

    1. At this stage of my life, I plant the cherry tomatoes in my yard and the odd heirloom past tomato, but let the farm stands grow the big ones in their amazing varieties!

  19. Sauteing the onions is a great idea, as I don’t like raw onions either. But the fennel I’d leave raw, as it loses its distinct flavor when sauteed, as well as its crispness.

    1. Thanks Stefan! I love the fennel raw as well, and that would be my choice. I love the flavor and crunch. My husband does not, so we try to keep everyone happy here!

  20. nancyc says:

    This sounds like a great salad and it’s perfect for summer! There’s nothing like home-grown tomatoes! 🙂

    1. Thank you Nancy! It was so delicious! Love tomato season.

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