Warm Fennel Salad with Bacon

Warm Fennel Salad with Bacon | Paleo + LifeMy friend S. mentioned that she currently has a bumper crop of lettuce, which got me thinking about warm salads. I have often wondered why Americans don’t usually cook salad greens; it is an easy way to increase one’s veggie intake. It’s also a handy way to use up the greens before they go bad — I’m sure we aren’t the only family who buy lettuce with good intentions but sometimes find it shriveled in the fridge several days later.

While I was thinking about salads, I found gigantic bulbs of Florence fennel at our local farmer’s market. I had my littles with me, so was not able to get a picture, but it was an impressive site: with the fronds attached, each fennel bulb was about two feet long. It was so strikingly beautiful, I just had to buy some. I remembered that my friend with all the lettuce also happens to be very fond of fennel, and that as a college student in Santa Barbara, she used to forage for wild fennel.

I brought these two ideas together to create a simple, paleo-friendly dish that is inexpensive enough for a college student budget, and substantial enough for a meal. I used spinach because that was what I had on hand, but another salad green like a red leaf or buttercrunch lettuce would be just as tasty and would take even less time.
The mild, licorice-like taste of fennel gets even milder here, with gentle cooking; the deeper flavors of garlic and bacon dominate. Dress this salad with a dash of oil and vinegar; add tomatoes and slices of avocado if you like, but it is quite tasty as is.

Fennel & Onion Salad with Bacon


  • 1 12 oz. package bacon
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 medium bulb fennel
  • 1 purple onion
  • 1 lb. spinach
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Prepare bacon in the oven, following the package directions. Once the bacon is fully cooked, remove from the oven and set it aside, reserving the rendered fat.
  2. Meanwhile, mince garlic. Thinly slice fennel and onion. Wash the spinach; spin the leaves dry in a salad spinner. (If you do not own a salad spinner, just squeeze the moisture from the leaves as best you can and pat them dry with a paper towel.)
  3. Warm a large saute pan over medium heat for approximately two minutes. Pour the rendered bacon grease into the saute pan.
  4. Add minced garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic browns. Add onions and fennel to pan; saute them until they soften (6-8 minutes).
  5. Add spinach to the saute pan. Stirring continuously, cook until spinach is warmed through (4-5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste. Crumble in the reserved bacon. Serve immediately.

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