Melon and Avocado Salad With Fennel and Chile

Melon and Avocado Salad With Fennel and Chile

This sweet-savory, crunchy-creamy dish nods to California summers, when a drive to the market can often end with avocados and melons buckled in the back seat. The recipe is simple, and instantly impressive: It involves little more than scooping out the fresh fruit and topping it with a spicy-sweet pinch of sugar and a drizzle of dressing. Rubbing toasted fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and lemon zest into sugar and salt helps their floral kick travel far. The salad’s balance depends on your melon and avocado, so rely on taste more than measurements here. Adjust the ingredients as needed, until the salad is rich, punchy and bright, bite after bite.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a small skillet over medium-low, toast the fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer them to a cutting board, then smash with a heavy pan until the fennel seeds break apart. (You can also do this using a mortar and pestle.)
  2. Step 2

    Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, then add the salt, sugar and 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest. Rub the mixture with your fingers until you smell the lemon.
  3. Step 3

    Using a soup spoon, scoop out small spoonfuls of the melon and place them directly on a serving platter. Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Using the soup spoon, scoop out small spoonfuls of avocado and place on top of the melon.
  4. Step 4

    Drizzle the fruit with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, then sprinkle with some of the fennel-chile mixture. (Start with half of it, then add more to taste.) Drizzle with the olive oil, then taste and adjust acid (with lemon juice), richness (with oil), and salt and sweetness (with fennel mixture) until it tastes fresh and bright. Serve right away.