Asparagus, fennel and beets with verjus recipe

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Verjus, or verjuice, is a sour juice made from unripe grapes. It was very popular in medieval times and is still used for making sauces in a few traditional French dishes.

  • Yield: 4 Servings as a starter

Ingredients

  • 4 mini beets (about ¼ lb)
  • 11/3 cups verjus
  • 4 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 4 to 5 oz fresh pencil-thin asparagus, or normal asparagus
  • ½ large fennel bulb (¼ lb), halved vertically
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tbsp dill leaves to garnish
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim most of the stalk from the beets, leaving a little at the top of each beet for the look. Put them into an ovenproof dish, cover it with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the beets are cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down before cutting into halves or quarters (you may want to peel them if the skin is tough).
  2. Pour the verjus into a small saucepan, bring to a light simmer and leave it to reduce to about 3 tablespoons. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool down, then whisk in the grapeseed oil and salt and pepper to taste. Put aside.
  3. If using normal asparagus, cut the spears on a sharp angle into long and very thin slices, or use a potato peeler to make “shavings.” Place the fennel half cut-side down on a mandolin and shave into paper-thin slices. The slices will have a hand shape.
  4. To assemble, arrange the vegetables on small serving plates. Scatter the pine nuts on top and drizzle over the dressing. Garnish with dill and serve.
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