Looking for a simple and summery vegetable side? This Fennel Radicchio Slaw is a light and refreshing raw salad that’s perfect for a picnic lunch or summer cookout, and it is a make-ahead dream.
This simple slaw is made with thinly sliced fennel and radicchio, fresh dill, and seasoned rice vinegar. It actually tastes better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two!
Because the vinegar in the dressing is so pale, the vegetables won’t discolor as they marinate. In fact, the radicchio brightens from a muted burgundy to a bright magenta.
The fresh dill enhances its warm-weather appeal, as the herb is commonly used in summer dishes like potato and cucumber salads. The fennel is quite firm, but it will soften over time as it sits in the slaw.
What Is Radicchio?
Radicchio is a dark burgundy vegetable that looks similar to cabbage. It’s a member of the chicory family. The texture is more tender than cabbage. It is slightly bitter, which works well in this slaw because it balances the anise in the fennel, the punchy rice vinegar, and the herbaceous fresh dill.
What Is Fennel?
Fennel is a member of the carrot family. Though it looks like a root veggie, it’s a bulb with green fronds and stems. All parts are edible, although the stems are tough and not often eaten. It tastes like licorice.
Fennel Radicchio Slaw Serving Suggestions
Fennel Radicchio Slaw makes for an excellent side dish, but like coleslaw, it can be served as a condiment—it’s excellent in a burger or as a topping on a sausage in a bun. It adds a juicy, tangy contrast to heavy meats.
It’s also handy as a base for other dishes. Toss with leafy greens and cubed chicken or steak for a robust entrée-sized cold salad.
Tips for Making Fennel Radicchio Slaw
I developed this recipe on a quest for a raw vegetable side that would hold well for days even after dressed. As a private chef, I cook several-days’ worth of meals that can be stored in my client’s fridge and are grab-and-go ready. I love how well this slaw keeps in the fridge—the fennel softens slightly yet stays crunchy. Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned:
- The key to a great slaw is to slice the fennel very thinly. If this is challenging, use a mandoline or the slicing blade of a food processor. The thickness of the radicchio is less important.
- Seasoned rice vinegar, unlike rice vinegar, is more flavorful and has a unique taste and umami. For best results, use seasoned rice vinegar.
- The quantity of fresh dill might seem small at first glance. It adds just the right amount of fresh, herbal notes without overwhelming the other flavors. I’ve found that when more dill is added, after one day it starts to taste like a dill pickle. If that sounds delicious, add up to 1 additional tablespoon of chopped dill.
Ideas for Swaps and Substitutions
This simple slaw stands up well to a variety of changes. Here are some ideas:
- If fennel isn’t your favorite, feel free to use cabbage or carrots shaved with a vegetable peeler.
- Instead of radicchio, use thinly sliced purple or green cabbage.
- If seasoned rice vinegar isn’t available, use your favorite vinegar instead. Because seasoned rice vinegar containers both sugar and salt, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey.
- If you prefer olive oil in salad dressings, it would work well here. Since olive oil hardens in the fridge, allow the slaw to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
- This salad can be made more hearty with the addition of any of the following: 1/4 cup chopped nuts (such as pistachios or walnuts), 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds, or 1/2 cup each cooked beans, legumes, or grains (such as farro or bulgur).
More Make-Ahead Salad Recipes:
- Cold Pea Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce
- Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad
Fennel Radicchio Slaw
- 4 cups fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- 3 cups radicchio, very thinly sliced
- 1 lightly packed tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup neutral oil, such as avocado or grapeseed oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toss the slaw:
In a large bowl, toss the fennel, radicchio, dill, vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper until combined.
Marinate and serve:
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes to let the dressing penetrate the fennel and radicchio. Before serving, toss again.