Shaved Fennel Salad + The Lunchbox Fund

Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad

Today I’m partnering with The Giving Table, The Lunchbox Fund, and nearly one hundred other food bloggers to feed impoverished and orphaned schoolchildren in South Africa. We’re donating our posts and asking our readers to join us in raising (at least) $5,000 to provide a daily meal to 100 children for an a whole year. Children with empty tummies at school can’t achieve their full potential. With the collective help of our reader base, we hope to nourish minds, nourish a nation, and positively impact the planet.

Nicole Gulotta asked us to share a personal anecdote to plead the case of this fantastic cause, and while I will eventually get to that, I think it goes without saying that hunger at home and abroad is a problem that should take very little convincing to get behind. It is stunning and despicable to me that nearly 65 percent of all South African children are food insecure and that 1.9 million of those children are orphans as a result of HIV and AIDS. It is also unacceptable to me that 1 in 5 children here in the U.S, the so-called “greatest country in the world” live in a household that struggles to put food on the table. This would never be true of the “greatest” country in the world.

Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad

South Africa lives in a tender corner of my heart. In 2010 I lived on a small ship for five months with a few hundred students, professors, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu sailing across the Atlantic, around the horn of Africa, through the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, and finally back across the Pacific. On the days we weren’t at port he gave lectures on the history of his country, Apartheid, the meaning of Ubuntu, and spent his mealtimes fraternizing with young people in the mess hall. On one evening I remember sitting around a round table with  six women and one guy, a phenom to Arch (what we called him affectionately), that merited he scoot from his table to ours. He looked at us, giggled, and proceeded to circle the perimeter, tapping our heads like a game of duck-duck goose until he reached our male friend, Nimish, and squealed “you lucky little bugger!” before skipping off. He is at once the fieriest and goofiest person I’ve been lucky to experience and my life is forever changed by his unwavering optimism for human goodness, capacity for love and forgiveness, and his belief that young people can change the world.

A lot of things get the man riled up, and hunger is one of them.

“I doubt if there is a single moment in our history when all human beings have had enough to eat. Even today, in a world where it is possible to communicate across thousands of miles… close to 1 billion men, women and children will go to bed hungry tonight around the world. Yet a lifetime of experience has taught me that there is no problem so great it cannot be solved, no injustice so deeply entrenched it cannot be overcome. And that includes hunger. Hunger is not a natural phenomenon. It is a man made tragedy. People do not go hungry because there is not enough food to eat. They go hungry because the system which delivers food from the fields to our plates is broken.”

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I have a shoddy recording (watch/listen here) of the night before we made port in Cape Town that I watch often for reasons private and obvious, in which he says:

Don’t let us grind you down. Dream. Go on for goodness sakes, dreaming. Dream, dream.

Dream the craziest dreams. They actually often are, God’s dreams.

I feel pretty confident that I know only a smidgen of what there is to know about this life and humans and our collective experience, but I know this: we can’t do it alone. Most of you will visit this site for the recipe, and perhaps the half that read this accompanying post will find themselves economically capable of donating to The Lunchbox fund, and that’s okay. We are all doing what we can, with what we have, and the time we get here. But I’m dreaming. I’m going to dream that 5000 Happyolks readers who will see this post over the next week will donate $10 and multiply The Giving Table’s goal by a factor of 10. Yeah. Crazy dreams. Whatcha think? Let’s do it.

Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad

Shaved Fennel Salad

  •  6 medium-ish bulbs fennel
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup watercress
  • ½ cup sour cherries
  • ½ cup shelled + chopped pistachios
  • juice of 1 navel orange
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp (plus a dash) sea salt
  • cracked pink pepper


With a mandoline, shave bulbs of fennel to ¼ inch thickness. Place in bowl and sprinkle with salt to soften. Set aside. Shave the onion and apples (with skin) on the same setting on the mandoline and set aside. Clean and remove leaves of watercress, parsley, and mint. Set aside.

Prepare the dressing by combining the juices of the orange and lemon, olive oil, plus salt, and cracked pink pepper.  Toss together the fennel, onions, apples, parsley, mint, watercress, chopped pistachios, and sour cherries with the dressing.

Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad Happyolks | Shaved Fennel Salad

This one’s for you, Arch.

For good measure, here’s the link (again) to donate a buck The Lunchbox Fund.

  1. Holly

    Such important work that needs to be done on this front! Thanks for partnering to spread the word, raise much-needed funds + make a delicious salad ( that I am tempted to make even though I detest fennel ).

    A happy Monday indeed! 😉


  2. Sini | my blue&white kitchen



  3. Phi

    Wow-gorgeous photos and an awesome looking salad, can’t wait to try it :)


  4. Shira

    What a stunningly beautiful salad and post! Here’s to that $50,000…YES!


  5. Aimée

    Beautiful post and sentiment. I’m confident we will supersede our goal, as you have projected!


  6. Ashley

    YES!! Dream big. We are in this together.


  7. dixya

    everything about this post is beautiful.


  8. Ashley

    These process shots are absolutely gorgeous and flow so well with the words you wrote. Just beautiful! Love the simplicity of this recipe as well.


  9. ashley | bloom & nourish

    beautiful post! you’re such a good story teller-they always impact me in some way. love to feel connected to so many others today, coming together for something so much bigger than ourselves.


  10. Danielle

    I’d imagine that most anything of significance first began as a dream.

    Thank you for supporting such a heartbreakingly necessary cause. One day, I hope, food is longer just a privilege.


  11. Grace

    BEAUTIFUL! It’s been great to read all of these other stories today. Thank you for sharing yours. I think we’re on track to surpass the goal here. I’m still apprehensive about fennel but if anyone can convince me to try it it’s you guys. This salad sounds delicious.


  12. joanna

    just simply gorgeous!!! I am too hungry right now to write more on this topic:)


  13. thefolia

    The distribution of our vital resources are all about power and control. That’s not to say that we cannot individually make a difference, however, we have to make a conscious effort and question everything. Dreaming of a time when everyone has their own secret garden with access to clean water. Happy Nesting.


  14. vanessa

    I love this post which is as usual beautifully written but today also a subject close to my heart making the world a better place one thougt, one post, one dream at a time. Dream the big dreams and let’s do it even I can do a dollar! You have to put it out there for anything to happen maybe we’ll surpass it. Thanks for the opportunity!


  15. Olivia

    big hug. This is lovely — as it always is with your work here — but this is so poignant and so important.


  16. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    This is an issue I’m extremely passionate about. It hurts my heart how wasteful this country is when it comes to food. You know I’ll be donating and spreading the word…


  17. Kathryn

    These are good dreams to have. Thank you for sharing the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; I can’t even begin to imagine how inspiring an experience that must have been.


  18. Hayley

    Hello! beautiful post as ever. Just thought I’d let you know though – I tried to donate less than $10 and was unable to as it is the minimum. I think your idea of 50,000 people donating $1 is wonderful but unfortunately not possible with the donation platform! Also, I am based in the UK and when I tried to pay with my British bank card, was sent an error message.
    I’m sure there were other people out there who jumped to get involved with the cause, but experienced the same difficulties.
    Thank you so much however for continuing to write so beautifully, your posts have given me more hope and inspiration that I can say. I live far from home and, originally from the West Coast, your photos both break my heart and fill me with joy and happy memories.


  19. Kelsey

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Hayley. I’m sorry you got that error message. I’ll touch base with the folks running this campaign and see what’s up. Thanks for your continued support!

  20. Jenny

    This post is so inspiring, as always.

    PS I tried to donate $5.00 but the site won’t let you donate anything under $10.


  21. Kelsey

    Hi Jenny, I just noticed the kickback! Ugh. That’s unfortunate. I’ll be in touch with the folks over at The Giving Table to see what’s up. Thank you for your support.

  22. Aeron

    Thank you, Kelsey, for another beautiful post: beautiful food (love fennel!), beautiful ideas, beautiful heart.
    I just donated and have had a look round the Causes website. Very intriguing! I’ll be back there…and here.


  23. Natalie

    Great dreams to have and ones that will be fulfilled. Thanks for sharing.


  24. Charlotte au chocolat

    You have such a beautiful spirit that just radiates from your posts. Thank you for being such an inspiration, and for connecting us with such an important cause. (also five months on a small ship?! How cool is that?!)


  25. Beth @ Tasty Yummies

    Simply stunning!!! As usual. I love everything about this. Your photos are just perfection. Thanks for sharing another amazing recipe.


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  27. Becky

    This salad is just gorgeous!! Hope you are doing well and enjoying the last bit of winter.


  28. Cameron Webster

    I was on your voyage! SAS F’10


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  30. anna

    10 lbs fennel? really? good looking salad though.


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  32. Sarah

    Buying 6 lbs. to make this; 10 seems like way too much.


  33. Sarah

    This is a great salad! I used 13 small fennel bulbs (about 6 lbs.); made a huge, lovely salad for romantic picnic date. I added some additional salt (I like things very salty, though) and 3 lemons (they were very small lemons).


  34. Jhustyn

    what kind of knife are you using? its gorgeous!


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  36. Patrice

    As always you touch my heart and soul with the most nourishing words! However, I do think you may have confused the word great with utopia. I practice a very radical form of worship and it is maybe the only place on this planet that I can exercise my conscious. For me that is why this is a great country. We still have many problems and injustices occur daily against innocent people. And yes some of our children go to school hunger but that does not take away from our greatness. It only means we have more to do and need to love our neighbor more. Where I live we feed our school children breakfast, lunch, and after school snack ( hopefully to get them through the night). It gives me great peace and joy to know that there are people like you reaching out to others. How about right at home?


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