Easy Dinnertime Salads—Lighten up for Spring!

Fennel Orange Salad Spring Salads Light Dinner

Spring has arrived and with it a crop of new vegetables. Move over winter squash and root veggies, fennel and asparagus are paving a greener way. Celebrate the new bounty of spring by lightening dinner with one of these fab salads.

There are two ways to use salad to make dinner healthier. One is to load a salad with grains and protein (meat, fish, tofu or egg), making it hearty enough to serve as a main main. Quinoa Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard is a perfect example. This Cucumber Salad with Poached Salmon is less filling on its own, but makes a great dinner with a side of soup or multi-grain rolls and a hunk of cheese. 

Another way to healthify dinner using salad is to serve it as a really big side along with a lighter main. Some of my favourite pairings are:

Balsamic Baked Chicken with Fennel Apple Slaw

Simply Grilled Skirt Steak  with (my absolute favourite spring salad) Shaved Asparagus Salad with Fontina Cheese


Simply Seared Salmon with Fava Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Crumbled Egg

Okay. I admit that though the fava bean salad is easy to compose, cooking and shelling favas takes a bit of time. And work. That’s why it’s so great with seared salmon which, around these parts, is also known as “The Best and Easiest Salmon You’ve Ever Made”! Plus, you can have your kids do all the fava work—it’s a perfect job for little hands!

This time of year is also great for a refreshing Fennel and Orange Salad. Fennel is in season and will be for a little while longer, but soon great oranges will be a distant memory (at least for some of us).

Look at how pretty fennel is! How can you resist these spring gems?!

Fennel Spring Salads Light Healthy Dinner

So go ahead—pick a salad, hit the farmer’s market and add a little spring to your dinner step. 

Fennel and Orange Salad

Serves 4-6


  • 2 large bulbs of fennel
  • 3 large oranges
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar (I love Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Vinegar for this, if you can get it)
  • Salt and pepper 


1. Trim fennel: Cut off the stalks close to the bulb, which is the only part you will use. Using a paring knife, trim the bottom and outer layer of the bulb. If the outer layer is very stringy and/or bruised, you can peel it off entirely. Slice the bulb in half and, using your paring knife, cut out the core. Switch to a chef’s knife or a mandolin and thinly slice the trimmed fennel. Set aside.

2. Prep the oranges: Using a paring knife, peel the oranges, removing as much of the pith (the white stuff under the peel) as possible. Remove each orange segment by cutting, one at a time, between the orange flesh and the white membrane that separates each segment. You’ll be left with a handful of pith and membrane with some orange flesh still on it (unless you do a perfect job, in which case: nice work!). Add the cleanly cut orange segments to a large bowl and set the pithy handful aside.

3. Add fennel to the orange segements. Squeeze the leftover orange pith into the bowl. Dress the salad with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and serve. If you are not serving right away, cover and store in the fridge for up to 30 minutes (much longer and the fennel will begin to lose its crisp).