marinated fennel + tomato salad

marinated fennel + tomato salad |

Madame Editor came over for a dinner last Friday night.

It’s always fun to enjoy the company of one of your oldest friends, who willingly eats your food as you ramble on and on about recipes and blogging. You know that she proof reads all of my posts, right? We’re like a tag team. Madame was an English major back in college and has a meticulous eye for detail. How she hasn’t clobbered me over the head by now for abusing the use of commas and exclamation points is completely and utterly beyond me. But needless to say, that’s what friends are for.

Friends also tell you like it is-

marinated fennel + tomato salad |

When I mentioned a marinated fennel + tomato salad, she looked at me with trepidation… raw fennel?

I empathized with said trepidation, as raw fennel used to freak me out as a kid; my Italian family would cut it into thick slices and eat it before and after a meal, plain. I was told that it was good for the digestion (I couldn’t stand it). Now, in my mature days I have reneged my position because raw fennel is quite tasty when thinly sliced and drenched in lemon and olive oil. Then again, what isn’t tasty drenched in lemon and olive oil? My point exactly.

Here, I toss shaved fennel with juicy, sun gold tomatoes and torn black olives. Sprigs of fresh oregano are used to flavor the salad, but removed right before serving as they tend to be on the pungent side. The salad marinates for about a half hour so that all of the flavors can do their thing. It is a refreshing combination of crunchy, salty, and sweet.

marinated fennel + tomato salad |

Madame Editor gave the nod of approval as she ate, proclaiming that raw fennel wasn’t as ‘aggressive’ as she thought it would be. Good word, right? So true. The inherent liquorice flavor mellows as it marinates with the rest of the ingredients. We ate this with crusty bread, carefully mopping up the golden juices that had pooled at the bottom of the bowl. We also added feta. You don’t see that pictured here because I was informed that I use feta in everything.

Go on, tell it like it is.


  •  The best way to achieve thinly sliced fennel is to use either a mandolin or a food processor fitted with the slicer blade. 
  • Sun gold tomatoes are an exceptional variety of cherry tomatoes. They are remarkably sweet. You could also substitute with regular or heirloom cherry tomatoes.
  • The key to this vegetable salad is to add salt. It draws out moisture creating an incredible juice when combined with olive oil, lemon, and tomatoes.
marinated fennel + tomato salad
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2-4 as a side dish
  • 1 baby fennel (or ½ regular bulb), fronds reserved
  • 1 pint sun gold cherry tomatoes
  • ½ c. pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • crumbled feta (optional)
  • crusty bread, to serve
  1. Thinly slice the fennel. You can use either a mandolin or food processor fitted with the slicer blade.
  2. Slice the tomatoes in half.
  3. Tear the olives into bite-sized pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, add the fennel, tomatoes, olives, and oregano springs.
  5. Add the juice of one lemon and drizzle with olive oil to coat.
  6. Add a large pinch of salt and toss gently to combine.
  7. Chill or allow to sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes; the longer it sits the more concentrated the flavors will be.
  8. Right before serving, taste the salad and adjust with extra seasoning, lemon, and olive oil. Remove the oregano sprigs.
  9. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and feta (if using).
  10. Enjoy with good, crusty bread.


  1. says

    Oh how pretty. I loved sliced fennel and what’s wrong with feta on everything..hahaha! Cherry tomatoes are so much fun especially when they come in so many different colors. You are so lucky to have someone to edit your posts for you. I was having my husband do it, until he couldn’t be bothered anymore ;) xxx

    • Emilie says

      Hi Sandra! Thank you! I can’t believe that I actually used to dislike raw fennel… I would only eat it sauteed or hidden in things. My childhood scared me ;) But eating it fresh like this is a real treat! What kind of fun things are you growing in your garden this year?
      And I don’t blame your husband for bailing on the proof read- it’s not a fun job! Writing posts in itself is like one big proof read, right? My friend willingly volunteers because she actually really enjoys it, so I totally lucked out. Plus, I’m a really bad texter (damn auto spell) and she’s probably trying to save me from embarrassing myself!
      PS- feta forever! xx

  2. says

    What a terrific salad. Sun Gold are one of my very favorite tomatoes, surely my favorite among the smaller varieties. The plants, prolific beyond belief, grow to well over seven feet tall here in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. I love raw fennel – it has such a sweet flavor profile terrific crunch. I hope all is well with you and yours, and I hope that this August has found you, as it has me, with too many tomatoes!

    • Emilie says

      Hello dear friend! I’ve recently got into Sun golds only last year, and boy are they delicious. I think that they might be the sweetest tomato I’ve ever tried. I always envy those on the west coast with their beautiful year round weather and prolific crops. Seven feet tall is insane! I surely wouldn’t mind that…
      Raw fennel is amongst my new favorites, especially when sliced thin. I like everything sliced thin- it certainly changes the way things taste for sure.
      I hope you and your family are enjoying the rest of this glorious summer as well, and that you are recovering with ease. Big hugs! xx

  3. says

    I agree with all three of those tips at the very end of the post, Emilie. Salt is important when cooking or serving with tomatoes. Sun Golds are absolute magic in the garden and in the kitchen. They just proliferate and produce the sweetest little golden nugget of summer (…summer’s bounty, right! HA!). And it is good to know that fennel bulbs work best with a mandolin. I am saving this recipe for later, once my Sun Golds are pumping, and I have harvested my fennel bulb (it is growing in a pot near my patio). Love the colors here, and seriously, keep unabashedly using feta. It is a food group in my house. I am sprinkling it over some peach and tomato bruschetta either tomorrow or Thursday (my day off, yay!). Cheers!

    • Emilie says

      Peach + tomato bruschetta with feta sounds heavenly… with wine? I’m going to have to try that one!
      I think next summer I’m going to grow Sun golds, since they are just out of this world. My current garden, (if you even want to call it that) has been invaded by weeds! And I do nothing about it. We all live together ;) Enjoy your day off, Jayme!! xx

  4. Emilie says

    Hi Pam! If you like fennel, this is a great (and different) way to use it. I love it sliced thin with lemon and olive oil- so refreshing :)

  5. says

    Your photography is so beautiful! We follow you on Instagram and every time you post a recipe, I’m tempted to run out and prepare the dish for my team. The colors of this salad are so lovely!

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