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Asparagus with Fennel Agrodolce


For the Fennel Agrodolce

1 cup diced fennel

1 star anise

½ cup simple syrup

½ cup water

½ cup white balsamic vinegar

For the Asparagus

1-2 pounds asparagus

Salt to taste

Chives for garnish


For the Fennel Agrodolce
  1. Put all ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce it until it's a jam consistency.
  2. Remove the star anise and let the sauce cool.
For Asparagus
  1. Trim asparagus by breaking off the woody end and peeling away outer layer of skin.
  2. Soak asparagus in an ice bath for about 20 minutes (revitalizes the cells, rehydrates it, helps set the color, and improves texture of the final product).
  3. Put a big pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil, and salt it so it tastes like the sea.
  4. Add your asparagus a few at a time, keeping it at a rolling boil (you want the convection).
  5. Cook anywhere from 60 seconds to 2 minutes (until al dente—has a bite to the tooth).
  6. Shock them right back into another ice bath to cool them down and stop the cooking.
  7. Serve warm or chilled with fennel on top; garnish with chives.
Note: The fennel topping can be made a few days ahead and chilled. 
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