Raw fennel and fall greens tossed with a smoky toasted cumin-lime vinaigrette contrast beautifully with sliced avocado and crispy roasted carrots. This versatile fennel and roasted carrot salad is perfect served alongside a protein or as part of an autumnal feast.
Blogs and influencer types often peddle some version of perfection. I don’t want that kind of vibe here. No matter what I buy or don’t buy, no matter what kind of produce I haul home from the farmer’s market or grocery store, I’ve found my life will always have a messy, on-the-verge feel. Sometimes there’s a week’s worth of laundry to fold and you’re on a tight budget but you’ve still got to get dinner on the table and that’s just how it goes.
But occasionally things fall into an easy harmony.
The house was clean and cozy, the children were both engaged in artistic pursuits, and the oven was creaking to life as I scrubbed carrots from the farmer’s market. Things in this past year have felt especially topsy turvy, and rarely do I feel the sense that everything’s right, the work is done, and I can relax. But on this one night, everything felt perfect just like it was, and I want to mark that. I can’t promise the same sense of well being will come to you should you attempt this avocado, fennel, and roasted carrot salad, but I wouldn’t rule it out, either.
This salad comes together in a few steps, but with contrasting notes of crisp, faintly sweet roasted carrots, crunchy shaved fennel, and creamy avocados, all tossed with a smoky toasted cumin-lime vinaigrette, it’s worth the extra time.
Carrots with Greens, Please
Roasting the carrots take some time, about 40 minutes. As they roast, flavors intensify and sweeten, resulting in crisp, deeply savory carrots. I prefer the flavor of fresh, greens-attached carrots, compared to densely-textured storage carrots, so whether you source them from the market or the grocery, try to get the kind with greens attached.
Bracing Leaves Welcome
While the carrots roast, the shaved fennel gets tossed with the vinaigrette and turns supple with just a bit of crunch. Beyond that, you’ll want to add some greens – either hardy leafy greens or delicate leaves will do. Since it’s so flavorful, this fennel and roasted carrot salad presents a good chance to use some of the more bracing greens. I went with a mix of mizuna and red leaf lettuce here.
If roasted carrot salads are your thing, check out this roasted carrot salad with cracked pepper crème fraîche or this roasted carrot sheet pan salad.
Raw fennel and fall greens tossed with a smoky toasted cumin-lime vinaigrette contrast beautifully with sliced avocado and crispy roasted carrots. This versatile shaved fennel and roasted carrot salad is perfect served alongside a protein or as part of an autumnal feast.
- 1 bunch young carrots, preferably with greens attached (if carrots are larger than 1-inch thick, halve lengthwise)
- 1 tablespoon heat-tolerant vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seed, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and shaved paper thin (reserve a few green fronds for garnish)
- 4 cups greens (dark, leafy greens, lettuces, or a mix – I used mizuna and red leaf lettuce here), chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 avocado, sliced (to keep avocado from browning, sprinkle generously with lime juice)
- 2 green onions, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Wash and scrub carrots. Trim all but 1-inch of the greens.
With a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind 1 teaspoon cumin seed. Toss carrots with vegetable oil, ground cumin seed, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Roast 20 minutes, flip, and roast 10 - 20 minutes more or until carrots have edged a deep golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Toss garlic with lime juice, rice wine vinegar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Set a small skillet over medium heat and toast remaining teaspoon of cumin just until fragrant, 1 - 2 minutes. Grind toasted seeds with a mortar and pestle. Whisk ground seeds into the dressing. Finally, whisk honey and olive oil into the vinaigrette.
In a small bowl, toss shaved fennel with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette.
Toss greens with a generous drizzle of vinaigrette and add sea salt to taste. Tuck shaved fennel throughout; top with avocado and sliced carrots. Finish with several twists of pepper, a pinch of sea salt, reserved fennel fronds, and chopped green onions. Serve right away.