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Shaved asparagus and fennel with aged Caerphilly

23 May 2013
Shaved asparagus and fennel with aged Caerphilly

Ingredients
(Serves four)

4-6 thick or 8-10 medium very fresh asparagus spears
1 young head of fennel, trimmed, a few feathery tops reserved
A handful of small salad leaves, such as buckler leaf sorrel, land cress etc.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
70-80g good-quality aged Caerphilly cheese, such as Gorwydd
For the dressing
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
4-5tbs cold-pressed rapeseed oil

Method
Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus and peel the lower end of the stalks. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, cut the asparagus on the diagonal into very fine slices.
Halve the fennel and, again, using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice the fennel as thinly as possible and place in a bowl with the asparagus.

Shake the ingredients for the dressing together in a screw-topped jar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the leaves and feathery fennel tops to the asparagus and fennel and season lightly. Toss with the dressing and arrange on plates. Shave the cheese with a small, sharp knife or a vegetable peeler and scatter over the salad.

Mark Hix, Hix Restaurants

RECOMMENDED WINE Asparagus loves to be a peril to wines, dominating and obscuring the character of some that aren't ready to slug it out. The rapier acidity of good Loire Sauvignon Blanc would go toe to toe with this dish, even coping with the anise notes in uncooked fennel, and lemon juice in the dressing, and cutting through the Caerphilly cheese. Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly are great alternatives to a knee-jerk Sancerre choice.

Zeren Wilson is a food writer and wine consultant, who runs restaurant review site www.bittenandwritten.com

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