Spicy Arugula Salad with Candied Fennel Seeds

arugula, beets, fennel seeds, detox, healthy, spring, salad, easy, lemon, vinaigrette

Spring has sprung! Although the last month we have already been experiencing record high sunny days, we have now officially made it through the winter months. It feels like the calendar is behind this year, as my apple and pear trees are already in full bloom, and the frogs in the pond have already croaked me to sleep the last 6 weeks. Spring in Seattle started February 1st, not March 20th.

Whether or not you are here on the West coast in a light spring jacket, or on the East coast bundled up from head to toe, I have decided it is time to bring the spring into the kitchen, highlighting spicy arugula, bright and tangy lemon zest, sweet and soothing fennel seeds, and the beautiful golden beet. Now you too can experience spring for lunch or dinner, even if you are wrapped in a parka. 

So what’s so great about arugula? Fennel? And the golden beet? Besides the fact that they all taste amazing, especially when tossed together in a lemon zest vinaigrette, these spring delicacies have so many wonderful benefits. Craving a spring detox, then this salad is for you!

beets, raw, health, detox, anti-inflammatory
arugula, beets, fennel seeds, detox, healthy, spring, salad, easy, lemon, vinaigrettebeets, raw, health, detox, anti-inflammatory

Firstly, did you know that arugula is considered a cruciferous vegetable? It is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, and therefore has a lot of the same wonderful benefits as these powerhouses do. One unique thing about arugula, compared to many other leafy greens, is that when chewed it releases a spicy flavor. This spicy compound is a phytonutrient called glucosinolate, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities. Plus it is great at supporting detoxification in our liver. Researchers have studied this phytonutrient extensively, especially in regards to its potential in cancer prevention. However, often times we cook cruciferous vegetables, which reduces the amount of this powerful phytonutrient. Therefore, eating raw arugula is a great way to get an abundance of this spicy and uber healthy plant compound.

TIP: Throw your salad greens into a bowl and top with fresh cold water. Let them soak while you prepare the rest of the recipe. This way the leaves plump up with water and are nice and crisp.

Instead of using the fennel bulb, I decided to use the fennel seed, for an extra somethin’ somethin’. Inspired by my favorite restaurant The Temple Bar in Bellingham, WA, I decided to make candied fennel seeds for added flavor and texture. Fennel seeds have been used for a long time to support digestive health, ease bloating, and also freshen ones breath. Have you ever tried candied fennel seeds after eating Indian food? These sweet treats are there for a reason; to aid in digestion after a meal and sweeten the breath after enjoying all the spicy and garlicky dishes. However, making your own at home is the best option. When using quality ingredients, candied fennel seeds add a delicious sprinkle of anise flavor, whether on a salad, dessert, or breakfast yogurt bowl.

fennel, seeds, digestive support, health, breath

Finally, lets drop the beet, with the golden star. Bright and sunny, like a warm spring day, this root vegetable adds a little weight to the otherwise light salad. Steam it, roast it, grate it, or slice it. Use it, how you best enjoy it. However, to reap the most of its benefits, including detoxification support, anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as potent antioxidant abilities, try to eat the beet raw or lightly steamed, as the powerful phytonutrient betalain steadily decreases with heat.

TIP: When purchasing beets, by those with greens. That way you know they are super fresh. Plus, you can use the greens in a quick sauté or even thrown them into a salad.

Wow, so much goodness in just one salad! It’s surely the way to bring spring into your kitchen and the spring back into your step. I know I will be eating this for some added detox support throughout the week!

Candied Fennel Seeds
Makes about 3-4 T

2 T organic sugar
2 T water
2-3 T fennel seeds 


In a small saucepan add the sugar and the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes syrupy. Usually at this point it will produce a lot more bubbles. About 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add in the fennel seeds. Continue to stir until the mixture crystalizes. This will happen from one second to the next and the fennel seeds will look almost dry. Quickly remove from heat and continue to stir a few more seconds until the fennel seeds are dry and separated. Pour into a sealable air-tight container.

Sprinkle on salads, desserts, oatmeal, etc. Or use to freshen breath after a spicy meal :)

Note: I tried using coconut sugar and it doesn’t work well. It becomes a solid mass. You have to use cane sugar for the best results.

Quick Lemon Vinaigrette
Makes about ¾ cup

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey or sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Zest from one lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste


Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a glass container and store in the refrigerator.

Spicy Arugula Salad
Makes as much as you want

1 medium golden beet
Fresh arugula
Candied fennel seeds
Quick lemon vinaigrette


Thinly slice the beet into rounds (I used a mandolin) and then cut the slices into thin matchsticks (you can also steam or roast the beet for added sweetness).

Toss with as much fresh arugula, fennel seeds, and vinaigrette as you want. Serve with goat cheese toasts and grilled salmon for a balanced meal.  

Note: toss all the ingredients right before serving to keep the fennel seeds crisp.

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