Apple Fennel Salad

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A light and tangy Apple Fennel Salad with thinly sliced apples, celery, and fennel topped with walnuts and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO

Overhead shot of apple walnut salad

Apple Fennel Salad

As I’ve mentioned before, I took a trip to Italy earlier this year and came away so inspired by all the different foods I ate while there. This apple and fennel walnut salad is a recreation of one of the most surprising things I ate in Italy. And surprising in a good way.


In one of the cooking classes my husband and I attended, we watched as the instructor made a variation of this salad and the entire time I thought, I won’t love that one – mostly because I’m not a fan of fennel. But when it came time to eat I absolutely loved it! The flavors complement each other so well that even I enjoyed the fennel.


Now, many months later, and after making this recipe way too many times, I’m sharing it with you! 🙂


Using the best ingredients for this Apple Fennel Salad:

I talked a lot about using authentic Italian products here. High-quality ingredients really make such a difference in your finished dish, and will take it from good to great.

So how do you know if a product is an authentic Italian product? Simple! The label on the product will say “Made in Italy.” A lot of products are “Italian-sounding,” or “Italian-looking” but aren’t really made in Italy. By giving labels a quick check, you can be sure you’re getting the best authentic Italian ingredients!

For this salad I’m using authentic Toscano PGI Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the dressing. It makes a world of difference, especially since the dressing is only comprised of olive oil and lemon juice (plus a little salt and pepper). You’ll be shocked how good the “dressing” is with so few ingredients 🙂

How to make this Apple Fennel Salad:

This apple walnut salad is incredibly simple to make: the dressing is made from only 2 ingredients, while the actual salad is made from 5 ingredients. That being said, here are a few tips to get it to turn out great:

  • Make sure to emulsify the oil. To do this, I like to combine the lemon juice and Toscano PGI Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a mason jar and shake it until well combined. You can briskly whisk the two together, but I’ve found the mason jar works the best and fastest.
  • Use a mandolin slicer. The fennel bulb, apples, and celery all get sliced very thin, which gives the salad a great texture. Using a mandolin slicer will ensure everything is uniformly and consistently cut. You want paper thin apple and fennel slices!
  • Toast the walnuts. Toasting the walnuts adds so much flavor to this salad. Don’t believe me? Just try it and I’m sure you’ll become converted:) Sometimes I buy pre-toasted walnuts at my local grocery store if I’m pressed for time.

Can I make this Apple Fennel Salad ahead of time?

  • This salad doesn’t sit well, so avoid making it too far in advance. The lemon juice in the dressing will delay the apple from browning, but I’d recommend not making this salad more than 30 minutes in advance.
  • This salad tastes the very best with cold ingredients, so make sure to stick your fennel, apple, and celery in the fridge for a few hours before preparing the salad.
  • You’ll also want to add the walnuts and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO RIGHT before serving to keep them from getting soggy. Enjoy!

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Apple Fennel Salad

5 from 4 votes
A light and tangy Italian salad with thinly sliced apples, celery, and fennel topped with walnuts and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO
Print Recipe

Apple Fennel Salad

5 from 4 votes
A light and tangy Italian salad with thinly sliced apples, celery, and fennel topped with walnuts and Parmigiano Reggiano PDO
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Keyword apple walnut salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 -6 as a side
Author Chelsea


  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice* (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Toscano PGI Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, halved, cored, & thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup honey roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano PDO


  • In a mason jar, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and Toscano PGI Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Put on the lid and shake to combine until dressing is emulsified. Add and taste to adjust salt/pepper/lemon as needed. (If your lemon isn't super ripe, you might want a bit more juice).
  • Using a mandolin slicer, thinly slice the fennel bulb. Cut the apples in half and then half again. Remove the core and then thinly slice all the apples on the mandolin slicer. Thinly slice the celery on the mandolin. Add the fennel, apple, and celery to a large bowl.
  • Gently toss the salad with the dressing. Right before serving add the roasted walnuts and freshly shaved/grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*Depending on how much total fruit/veggies your salad yields and your preference for amount of dressing, you may want to double the dressing. We often like a doubled amount of dressing, but double/add to your desired preference


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

A light and tangy Apple Fennel Salad with thinly sliced apples, celery, and fennel topped with honey roasted walnuts! via #walnut #apple #fennel #salad #thanksgiving #fall #side #celery #crunchy #lemon #dressing


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Recipe Rating


  1. I got to live in Italy for three years and it changed my life! I had a similar experience; not liking certain foods and then loving them after being prepared with an Italian appreciation and technique. You and I could probably talk for hours about Italy and their food. I still plan on returning to attend a culinary school there. And this recipe sounds amazing! Can’t wait to show it to my mom!

    1. Ahhh what an amazing experience! I am soooo jealous! I could seriously talk about my experience and food for hours too! And oh my gosh how cool would it be to attend culinary school there! AMAZING!!! But seriously you guys have to try this one!

  2. I’m making this tonight but know there will be left overs. You said it doesn’t sit well. Any tips for keeping it well for lunch tomorrow? I’ll keep the nuts and cheese on the side but will the dressing keep it from browning? How mushy will it het?

    1. You should be fine to keep it overnight if you have the dressing on it and keep those ingredients on the side! I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I made a few additions:
    Added honey & Apple cider vinegar to emulsified lemon and EVOO.
    Omitted celery and cheese because I am lactose intolerant.
    Added strawberries for color and texture.
    Substituted toasted almond slices.
    Love the pairing of apples and fennel.

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